I recently started volunteering at a homeless shelter in Davenport and I am so glad I am. The shelter needed someone to maintain the flower beds. This is so perfect because I love to garden and living in an apartment doesn’t give me an opportunity to do so.
I’ve been busy just pulling weeds and watering right now. It needs a lot of work! I am amazed by the character of a lot of the residents there. I want to tell a story about one of the residents, and for privacy I am going to change his name. Let’s call him Joe. He noticed I was outside working on the flower beds and he grabbed a trash bag and said “Need help? What are you doing?” I immediately smiled and said, “Sure! I am just picking some weeds.”
He started picking weeds with me and we had quite a few conversations. He told me why he was there and how he is looking to go to college. He is looking to enroll at Capri to become a hair stylist “because the shelter gives me experience with all kinds of hair types,” he told me. He want’s to marry Taylor Swift and can’t wait to vote for the first time this year for Obama. He said that just because he is in a shelter, it won’t stop him from having the life he wants. He also promised one day he will have a family and his kids won’t have the life he had. Listening to this 19-year-old speak with such courage and confidence really touched me. And it made me thing about how I react when I am faced with a challenge. This kid is looking inside himself and finding everything he has to keep going. He reminded me to keep digging for that strength that we all posses.
When I left Thursday night he promised me he would work on the weeds ( “because picking weeds is a lot easier then collecting cans”), and when I returned yesterday I noticed that he did work on it. I started watering and Joe came outside, but he was leaving in a hurry. As he was leaving he asked me why I wasn’t downtown. I was confused and he said, “For the volunteer thing. I am going right now to sign up to help little kids at the Boys and Girls Club. See you later!”
This really made me smile. I feel like if I was in his situation I would be having a pitty party, but he is also a volunteer looking to help someone else.
I really think that life is supposed to be challenging for us at times. Some of us are more fortunate than others, but we are all here to help each other and to learn from the tough times. Think about how overcoming an obstacle makes you stronger and a more loving person. I am not sure what else I can do for Joe (he does work with his own counselor at the shelter), but I think he needs someone to talk to about Taylor Swift and funny Ben Stiller movies while picking weeds. And he keeps teaching me about how to keep going when life gets hard.
I can’t wait to see how our garden will grow and develop.