For my community enrichment project I went to DC to volunteer for an organization called SOME. It stands for “So Others Might Eat”. The organization’s mission is to help end the cycle of poverty that is rampant in the Washington DC area. It does tries to accomplish this through a variety of different branches including counselling, food pantries, donations, job training, drug rehabilitation, healthcare services, and low-cost housing. They decided to incorporate all of these branches in order to break the cycle of homelessness rather than merely provide temporary relief.
I had the opportunity to volunteer in the food pantry division. I got to the location at 10 am and upon arriving I was immediately shocked by how welcoming and joyful all the volunteers were. We talked about how often most of them came to volunteer and how impactful their help truly is to the surrounding community. I was met with a training session that explained what the organization wanted to achieve and how we were going to assist them in their mission. I stayed and helped until 1:30. During my time there we prepared meals for breakfast and lunch. We split up into groups; some of us cleaned, others served food, others coffee etc. Essentially, we worked in waves. We prepared food, served it, and cleaned up our area before receiving another round of people. Each and every time we opened the doors for more people to come in, the room would be filled in seconds.
In the midst of serving food and walking around the cafeteria I had the opportunity to talk to some of the people there. Some just told me jokes, others kept thanking me, and some just wanted to talk. I could see in their eyes the pain that each of them had endured before. Specifically, I remember a man from Mexico that began to speak to me in Spanish. He thanked me for being there and told me how much of an impact having a nice warm meal has on his day. Afterwards he asked me in Spanish “I still have a cookie left, can I have more coffee to enjoy my cookie?”. I told him of course and he proceeded to tell me that in Mexico he would always leave some beans on his plate and then ask if he could have a quesadilla or something to finish enjoying them. We laughed and he thanked me yet again before heading off to start his day. For some reason, this little bit of laughter made me see how he looked at the world with an optimistic mindset despite everything that he had been through. Looking back, hearing this was a great lesson that taught me to be thankful for my blessings and to look at the world through an optimistic mindset.
I really enjoyed my time volunteering at SOME. After completing this community enrichment I know that I will sign up to go out and help into the community again. I think that working with the community is a great way to develop aspects of PERMA. It can create meaning, relationships, positive emotion, and help others achieve their accomplishments. Volunteering is always a great way to help oneself flourish, as well as help others flourish. It is definitely something that I will continue to seek out.