JOCELYN BOE, BIOLOGY STUDENT
Where did you serve?
San Francisco at the Tenderloin District for this program called City Impact.
What did you learn?
I learned so much about myself as a person and about the perspectives of those living in areas like San Francisco’s Tenderloin District. Working there, you hear people’s stories and each one is unique and surprising in its own way. You never know where someone has been and how they ended up where they have. And it breaks my heart that these people lack something so essential as civil human contact sometimes. Many of them hadn’t had a hug in ages. Most of us, and I include myself in this, have walked by individuals who are homeless and try to avoid eye contact. Think about that. No one even makes eye contact with them. It’s like they are ignored by the rest of the human race. And I do realize it can be uncomfortable, incredibly so! But, it really is an amazing experience when you have your first meaningful conversation.
It really makes you realize how fortunate you are and it kind of gave me a new perspective with the homeless population. We would often talk to them and just the fact we were talking to them and acknowledging them made them feel way better.
What impact did you make?
I was essentially doing any jobs of service that the agency needed. For example, street outreach, meals on wheels, and replacing worn out carpet. It’s hard to know the long term effects of the impact we did during that day; however, many of the individuals we were helping definitely enjoyed our presence and the fact we were there to appreciate them. Many of them feel they are not appreciated so our involvement was definitely worth while.
These experiences have changed my entire outlook in so many ways. Its changed how I perceive myself and my own life. I had no concept of how incredibly blessed I am to have the life that I do. And I never realized the value in how you treat someone, even just in smiling or looking at them and really seeing them. Seeing that they are just like you in more ways than you could ever imagine. And it makes you think about the state of the world in a different way. We watch the news and hear these tragic stories about the heroin addiction epidemic, job loss, etc. But it’s one thing to see it on a screen and another to meet someone in the middle of it. It’s so easy to be apathetic. I have been, and still am much of the time.
I also grew a lot closer to my youth group that I was in at the time. We all just developed this love for service together and we were able to talk about the things we experienced and the people we met throughout, and I think that was another aspect that helped me to learn. We laughed and cried together every single time. I still remember singing Beauty and the Beast in the kitchen with Jake during clean up and holding my friend, Conner, while we cried after he told the group about a man he had spoken to earlier that day. You just don’t come back the same. I have to attribute it to God, because He always had something new in store for us when we went there. Every person grew in a different way, thanks to Him.