Those Who Can Do More

This post is likely not the last I'll share about service learning, though it completes the posts about our Martin Luther King, Jr. Month of Service Learning. Wow! What a way to start off 2015! I planned to have this posted by the end of January, but I needed time to reflect on the experience as a whole. Okay, that's only partially true. I also got really busy with a family road trip to Louisiana and home renovations. Honestly, I wasn't going to write about our final day at Room in the Inn because I really didn't think there would be anything new to share. I was wrong.

The last day of service learning was a lot like the other days we served at Room in the Inn. We set tables, we made beds, we shared what we knew about homelessness with new volunteers. Of course, by the end of our month of service, these young volunteers needed a lot less help and guidance. In fact, they zipped through all of the tasks and jumped right into discussion with little prompting from me at all. I think it's more accurate to say, they completely took over!

They took turns sharing ideas with each other about how they might continue to help people who are experiencing temporary or chronic homelessness. The discussion not only highlighted what they had learned throughout our project, but how much these brilliant, compassionate, young people have to offer our community. I just sat and listened as one ten year old girl proposed the idea of a hotel for homelessness- a future Memphis institution that would be staffed by the people it aimed to help.

"Maybe people who can afford to stay in the hotel can pay to visit and this can help give jobs to people who can work and live there, until they are no longer homeless."

...As I sat there listening to the budding architect describe the best layout the building, it was so clear that each kid had their own talent to bring to the table- I mean hotel.

I've thought about it every day since then- the grace of a ten year old girl's idea and her passion for sharing it with like-minded kids, who all want to be involved. All this reflection made me realize that behind each one of our service learning projects was a truly inspiring woman. This is not to say that the fellas aren't working hard too. I just think it's worth pointing out that the ladies are doing some really amazing things in this town. How lucky I feel to know these women and see their positive impact on our community... their impact on how other young volunteers see the world around her. 

I bet these women were just as passionate when they were ten.

Sarah at Volunteer Odyssey, who introduced Janie Kathryn and me (and countless others) to all of these organizations and meaningful volunteer work in our community; 

Sister Maureen, whose kindness changes the lives of so many families and makes all who enter the Dorothy Day House feel at home;

Miss Lisa, as she is called by those whose lives she touches as director of Room in the Inn- Memphis- she spreads warmth and compassionate across our city, and not just on the coldest nights; 

Lois, the most organized and dedicated volunteer I know and coordinator of volunteers for Room in the Inn - Trinity;

and Rev Deb, pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church, who leads a congregation in true service to our community.

Lauren at Action News 5, who always highlights the good in Memphis and never gives up pitching the positive stories;

and Erin and Megan at Carpenter Art Garden, whose compassion for children and community is changing lives and igniting a passion throughout Memphis. (Though this wasn't part of our first service learning adventure, I expect it will be in the near future!)

These women are truly, truly inspiring. 
As Las Savell's sign would say, "Ladies, you make Memphis a better place!"

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