When I decided to do a year of service and became an Augustinian Volunteer, I will admit I was nervous to be living in a new city and to be working so closely with the homeless population in a small town in California. I had volunteered many times over the years and interned at a social service agency in a suburb of Philadelphia, but I had never had the role of case manager/social worker and had never worked so closely with clients. Needless to say, I had a lot of learning ahead of me. I have learned a lot from just observing my coworkers and one of our star volunteers and how they interact with the clients.
I have also observed how lucky I am to have a house, car, money, and food that is provided for us through the Augustinian Volunteer program. Realizing this has made me extremely grateful for the necessities of life that I have access to. I have witnessed people at their lowest low and have done my best to help them or get them to the right people or agency.
There are two instances that stick out to me the most. One is when a woman came in and she was very upset, she was in an abusive relationship and wanted to leave her partner, but she didn’t have the money or resources to do so. Due to the limitations of our program, I was only able to give her some resources and hotline numbers. But what struck me the most is that I sat with her for over an hour and just listened, it was all she needed at that moment as she did not have any family around her.
The second instance is during our Christmas gift program for kids, one family was lucky and had gotten double the gifts for their children. The mother was so grateful and had started crying and hugged all of us. Her husband had just lost his job and they were struggling to make ends meet. In that moment it made all the hard work put into the Christmas program more than worth it.
Those two situations make me extremely grateful to have the life, support, family and friends that I do. Without the AV organization, volunteers like me, would not be able to have the experiences that we do. And for that, I am very grateful.
Ventura, CA 2019-2020