Post by Lauren
This Friday, I am grateful for having a home, and the fact that I have never had to worry about having a place to sleep. I would include a “warm place to sleep” in this designation, but we don’t actually have that guaranteed anymore in our current apartment since our heat hasn’t been fully turned on yet by the regie 🙂
Kidding aside, I used to volunteer frequently at The Samaritan House back in Charlotte, cooking meals for and playing games with the guests. The organization was for homeless who were recovering from a hospital stay or had a serious medical condition. Traditional shelters, while good, were not an adequate place for this type of individual needing rest and recuperation. Samaritan House allowed them to live in a family-like setting for up to a month and also provided assistance for housing & jobs upon recovery.
In acclimation training, when I mentioned this and my intention on seeking similar opportunities in Geneva, our trainer commented, “good luck with that”.
When I first arrived, I did find it difficult to find places to give back. Most what I consider “real” volunteer opportunities have the pre-requisite of speaking decent French. I can’t check that box yet. Did you read Wednesday’s post?
The women’s club always has a need for people, and I have been helping with welcoming people and doing pro-bono marketing and PR. It’s a great organization. But, as a sole outlet, it lacked what I got out of my time at Samaritan House.
I phrase this exactly this way because without question, I get more out of volunteering with those in need, exceedingly more than the time or money that I put into it. It provides a paradigm shift for what problems actually are. When you see those give such gratitude for simple gestures like a meal or a conversation, it makes you realize how joyful you need to be with your own situation. I don’t know about you, but I need a healthy dose of that often.
I was so delighted when a friend at the women’s club mentioned her church cooks and serves lunches for a women’s shelter here in Geneva, Café Care. I had my first visit this week and am so grateful for the timing of the experience. I won’t go into the details, but sometimes life in a foreign country can get you down, and it was one of those weeks.
We served the lunch, so sat down a few minutes after everyone had started eating, finding spots amongst the twenty women attending that day. As I unfolded my napkin, the girl in front of me looked up and said to me with kind eyes, “bon appétit, madame”.
Just what I needed.
Bon week-end everyone!