Ripple Effects

It was a windy but beautiful day 3 here Jacksonville! Today we worked clearing trails and taking apart a boardwalk at Little Talbot State Park. Jerry

Vagabond: A person who wanders from place to place

Tuesday, March 20th!

Such a full day! I got to start my morning bright and early at 6:00 here (5:00 Missouri time, whew!) to help out with breakfast preparation and to get the day rolling. We worked at 3 different work sites today, each with their own challenges and lessons. We first arrived to the food kitchen that we were serving breakfast at 8:00. There we provided breakfast to over 100 people in downtown Jacksonville and we got to interact with tons of different people both from those we were serving and other volunteers. That site took a lot of team work and delegation. I enjoyed seeing the system that they had set up to serve everyone in an orderly manner.

For our second project we got to go back to the church that we were staying at and help them with one of the social ministry projects they had operation out of this church. They had tons and tons of clothing donations from returns from other companies that they sort and give to people that need clothes. I was a great opportunity to get to know the people that work out of this location. As a group working together we had an amazing time laughing and sorting clothes. Time was able to fly by fast as we were working hard and having fun.

For our third an final project of the day we joined up with another group to work in a large apartment complex. This location had a fire back in December and had to evacuate after the fire caused sprinklers to go off and for there to be flooding. After they moved everyone out to take care of the water damage they also found asbestos. On top of all those issues this apartment complex was for low income and disabled people so they needed extra help moving and sorting boxes as they returned to their homes. This helped with what I believe is my biggest take away from today and the work that we’ve done and also helps me appreciate how lucky I am. This is because at the end of the day we had to leave early due to bed bugs. Fortunately we were able to return to clean clothes and clean beds while the people at those apartments are still in those crappy conditions and that’s their lives and they don’t have the opportunities that we have to walk away when things are bad.

Synopsis of the So-Far

This trip has been eventful to say the least. We have met a wide variety of people. From the comparing words with the Plymoth volunteers, and learning sign language from Lucy, to hearing the journey of Keenan from Americore. There are so many people here, all brought together for the same purpose.

We’ve done so much in these past 2 days, it’s difficult to convince myself that it’s not Wednesday night. I don’t think I’ve ever moved so much stuff in my life, but being able to see the smiles of the people, to hear Lucy’s rare laugh of joy, it made me want to continue.

I’m excited for the days to come for this trip, and the memories to make with these people.

First Day Out

Monday March 19, 2018

The “liquid sun” met us early this morning in Jacksonville, FL, at Presbyterian Social Ministries. As we packed up in the van to head to the beach to do some clean up. Plans were changed, but not stopped. We detoured from the beach to do some inside work at the Kingsley plantation. One of the oldest plantations in Florida. I am a fellow Floridian and never knew that place ever existed, but that was a weird experience for me just it being a plantation and seeing actual places where people were oppressed and treated as property.  But after we did some detail cleaning with Plymouth State university  we got the chance to see the views off the island which were exceptional, then we proceeded to the beach clean up and it was cool, because that is where the students most interacted with each other.  It can only go up from there, looking forward to what’s to come tomorrow.

Day One : Fun in the Sun!

It’s a beautiful Monday afternoon down here in sunny Jacksonville, even if the day didn’t start out this way. We woke up to a thunderstorm and pouring rain, which put a rough start to a beach clean-up day. To avoid getting soaking wet right away in the day, we drove to the Ribault Club, an old plantation-style country club. The club is opened to the public, and needed some detailed TLC. My group and I were in charge of cleaning windows, and there were a ton!

After that, we had a half hour of downtime before lunch, so we visited the Kingsley Plantation. The rain had finally stopped and the sun came out just in time! There was a beautiful house with a kitchen house attached, and former slave houses lined the property. Not only was the historical significance interesting, but the environmental aspect was just as exciting! Around the back of the property was a single orange tree, and for someone from the Midwest it was different! While we looked at the slave houses, a peacock opened his feathers to show off.

We then drove to Little Tobalt Island and had lunch. After that, we each got a trashbag and began doing beach clean up! The weather was perfect, sunny and 75, and al of us walked up and down five miles of dunes and shore lines picking up garbage. We stumbled upon cacti, turtle shells, and crab holes. The sun was warm on our backs but a cool breeze kept us comfortable. After a couple hours of cleanup we were done for the day.

Right now, we are gathering for dinner and the rain is starting again. The refreshing cool air is pouring into the dining room as day one comes to a close!

First Day Fun!

We had a great start to our trip and landed in JAX last night around 4. We went to Target, grabbed some things we needed and got some yummy custard. To begin our day, we had breakfast with the other group here and packed our sack lunches for the day. Soon after, we headed out to the work sit. With it being rainy, we did some spring cleaning in a historical building. After that, we headed to an old plantation and explored a while and then went to the beach for our lunch break. Our helper/boss Ranger Allison brought gloves and trashbags for our beach clean up, and we spent the rest of the day cleaning up debris along the shoreline. There were many cacti that stuck to EVERYTHING, but we soon learned to watch our step. We are done, and sunburned, just waiting on dinner! I can’t wait to see what we can help with tomorrow!!

First day of the trip!!

To begin our day, we had breakfast and packed our lunches for the day. In the morning it was raining so we did some spring cleaning in a historical building. After that we headed to an old plantation and explored for a while and headed to the beach for our lunch break. Since the weather cleared up, Park Ranger Allison then gave us gloves and trash bags and we cleaned up debris from the hurricane along the shore line. A few of us saw some wildlife, like turtles and lots of plants we don’t have back home. There were a TON of cacti which stuck to everything, but we soon learned to watch our step. Dinner is being prepped soon and I can’t wait to see what we will be doing tomorrow!

Baton Rouge Trip

Day 1: On the first day of the trip we arrived at the biggest food bank that I have ever seen and the manager showed us around, he explained where the water level was at the food bank and how bad it was in the last year. He explained where all the food comes from and then we started sorting food and unloading food out of containers, it was great to talk to some of the locals who experienced the flood and how they were still able to help the other families affected.

Day 2-3: During these two days we worked with All Hands cutting and hanging drywall.  This was a great experience and we got to meet the home owner of the house we were dry walling and just to see how grateful she was made the whole trip worth it and the long days hanging dry wall not that bad.  She was a great older lady and had to evacuate her house from the roof when it was flooding.  I am glad we got to have this connection to someone who was there for the flood and got to hear their story.

Day4: This was a short day I worked with the environmentalist learning about how the flood effected the forest and what it did to the environment.  We removed unneeded brush and helped clear a walking trail in the forest.  Then later in the day we went to an awesome swamp tour and saw where the water level was there during the flood.  We then went in to New Orleans and saw some sights and ended the night with a bus ride back home.

27 New Friends

When Spring Break is mentioned to college students, not many dream of spending it installing insulation and hanging drywall. However, that’s exactly how 28 of us chose to spend our spring break this year and we wouldn’t of had it any other way. Traveling for 16 hours in a bus to spend four days giving back to a community in need is one of the most life changing things I could of done. The most amazing part of the whole experience was the relationships that I built from it. Not only did I get to form relationships with the victims of the flood and who we were helping, but I got to form relationships with 27 other people that having amazing hearts. It truly takes an unique individual to give up a week of their break and work hard all day for people they do not even know. These 27 other individuals are now some of my biggest role models, cheerleaders, and friends. I never would of guessed that after just one week, I could of formed the bond I did with this group. Even though we are back now, I know that if I ever need anything that these 27 individuals would be there for me in a heartbeat. It is truly amazing and I am so blessed to have gone on this service trip and met such selfless, loving individuals. Alternative Spring Break will be with me the rest of my life. It has truly changed my perspective on life and my heart.