We just wanted to give all y’all an account of how ASB went! Let me start out with IT WAS AWESOME. We arrived in Hartford on Saturday on a Peter Pan bus and took Hartford transportation to our housing site for the week, the New Britain YMCA. There are no words to describe how great this place was. A wonderful staff greeted us and led us to a refurbished basement with sleeping mats, a kitchen, a tv, and bean bags. Yeah, it was as cool as it sounds. There is a nearby grocery store, so our first mission was to set out and get some food.
HandsOnHartford was an awesome organization. They work with multiple programs run through the city, such as Peter’s Retreat, The Backpack Program, Hartford Food Pantry, and Hartford Soup Kitchen.
We spent some time at Peter’s Retreat, a home for people who live with HIV and who are homeless/at risk of being homeless. We chipped off some old paint on the wall and put on new primer. Since our group was working in close quarters on such a big project, we were able to do group bonding straight away. A couple volunteers were able to play bingo with the residents, and those residents are a riot and a half.
We did some service at the Hartford Food Pantry, stocking the shelves and serving customers that came in to shop during their monthly appointment. The model of this food pantry was different in that it stressed the concept of serving guest with respect. Guests were given a shopping cart and went through shelves that resembled grocery store shelves. Each guest was accompanied by one of our volunteers who had a sheet stipulating how much a person was allowed to take based off the size of their family. Other volunteers helped in the office or helped packing grocery bags for guests. Later on, we ended up running a food drive, where the food that was donated would be put on the shelves of the food pantry. Compared to the average 50 lbs of food that an average food drive brings in, we were able to collect 341 lbs of food in 2.5 hours.
We helped with the Backpack Program, a program that packs bags for kids in local elementary schools that are at risk of going hungry over the weekend while they are away from school. We packed bags full of nutritious goodies and sorted them to make sure the the correct number of bags were given to the proper schools. Overall, we were able to pack 550 lunches for that weekend.
We spent some time at the Hartford Food Pantry where we served guests lunch and were able to spend some time playing dominoes and bingo with them. By the end of the day, we had served 120 lunches. The guests at the food pantry were so happy about us visiting them and talking to them. This was some of the volunteers favorite part of the trip.
We spent a lot of our afternoons at the YMCA since we generously given free passes to the facility for a week. Activities ranged from cycling, running, rock climbing, and Pilates. There is also a pool there, so maybe pack a swim suit for next time! They also provided us a TV, so make sure everyone brings fun DVDs! Board and card games were a staple of each night as well, so relive your childhood and bring some of those back!
Overall, this was a fantastic week and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. I learned a lot about people, about life, and about myself. We introduced ASB to the Hartford residents and I’m convinced they cannot wait to see us again. Thank you to my volunteers, my Co, Emma Rehard, the chairs, the PMs, and the CSC for continuing this wonderful program.
Cheers and good luck next year!
2013 Hartford, CT Round 1 Cos–Signing off.