Its sad but true. Today is the day that we head back to Wisconsin. Some people woke up extra early this morning to go to the original Carlo’s Bakery from the Cake Boss. They got Cannoli’s and cupcakes. Another group ate IHOP in Harlem, while another group slept in a bit and packed.
The week in the city was filled with many new experiences and lessons concerning the GMHC, big city life, and people in general. Everyone will have their own personal take away from this trip and that’s what’s so amazing about traveling and volunteering. We as a group have come together throughout the week and grown as people. I’m glad that was able to take part in such an amazing experience.
It’s goodbye for now New York, but maybe some of us will see you again someday.
Today we embark on our last day volunteering at GMHC! Throughout our time this week we have met some amazing people from Kelsey Louie the CEO, to the incomparable Cecilia.
One of the highlights this week was serving lunch to the clients. It gave us a chance to interact and connect with them. At certain times we were able to sit down and have lunch with the clients and in those moments we had the chance to hear about the clients lives if they were willing to share or just to talk about the weather. Throughout the lunch service everyone was so joyful and it really opened our eyes to see that just because they are affected with either HIV or AIDS that their personality was so gracious and upbeat that it put in perspective of the little things that we may complain about that may not be a big deal in the big picture. One of the greatest moments of volunteering at GMHC was watching the documentary of Larry Kramer. It was the first time many of us had heard of him and the work he did to progress the Medication for HIV/AIDS was amazing. The passion and dedication he had is something we can all learn from.
As mentioned in one of the first blogs we all put together care packages guided toward women. Today we had the honor of donating the 28 care packages to GMHC! It warmed our hearts to know that the care packages will be given to those who really need it.
During our two hours at GMHC today we met with Susan Rowley the director of the hotline and buddy program, we got the chance to learn first hand about what goes in to working the hotline and what skills are needed to best serve the clients that call the hotline. Next, we had a debriefing session just to talk about the whole week and what we will take away from volunteering at GMHC.
Our time a GMHC was amazing. All the welcoming faces in the morning made everything 10x better!
After we left GMHC we then went back to Time Square to have lunch at an incredible Italian place called Carmine’s! Their portions are family size and everything was really good! After lunch we went to Rockefeller Center and the NBC store. It was really cool to see where the today show is taped and to watch people ice skate.
For dessert we went to Cafe Lalo, a famous cafe. Their desserts are amazing! ( I would recommend the cheesecake!)
After we got done eating our group decided to split up, some went to the broadway show Kinky Boots, while the other group decided to come back for a early night!
I think as a group we have come to know each other and appreciate each other a lot. We have definitely become a little family and our time in New York has been filled with adventure and excitement! Although we came to volunteer I feel that we all walked away changed for the better.
Our day was jammed packed! We got up and took the subway to Central Park and walked around for a little while. The scenery was beautiful and we had a nice time posing for pictures. We also saw the outside of the Museum of Natural History (Night at the Museum, museum) and got breakfast at a bakery nearby. It was super tasty.
Some of the activities at the GMHC included making Safe Sex kits, talking to the CEO of GMHC, and watching a film about Larry Kramer. The safe sex kits, called “Pussy Packs, are going to be handed out at the AIDS Walk in a few months. Many of us learned what dental dams and finger cots were and how they can help people to protect themselves during sexual encounters. Speaking with Kelsey Louie was a beneficial experience for the group as a whole, especially those who are social work majors. Kelsey shared his story of how he came to be CEO and how he uses goals to guide his life. The time spent watching the Larry Kramer film was hands down the most educational part of the day. The film showed very raw, intense footage of how devastating the AIDS epidemic truly was. It highlighted Larry Kramer and gave a real look into how he used his voice and acted up to start the war on AIDS. Larry Kramer in Love and Anger is a must see documentary.
From the GMHC, we set out to see, “Waitress” on Broadway. The show was amazing and featured original music by Sara Bareilles. There was a balance of comedy and drama and ties to today’s society. We didn’t get a chance to eat before the show so we ate Buffalo Wild Wings across the street from the theater. Everyone was so hungry that it didn’t matter that we weren’t trying new food. It took us awhile to get back to Harlem because of train delays and it was a very late night, but a day well spent.
Today in Guatemala we were able to spend the day doing a service project with the cooperative in San Lucas.
We helped to make 5 compost beds so that the farmers could make their own fertilizer to grow the coffee trees. We all worked as a team cutting wood, hammering, and measuring the wood for the project.
It was definitely a dirty and tiring day but in the end everyone in the cooperative was truly greatful for our time and hard work. Also, we as AB volunteers were glad for the opportunity to make a difference and to be able to work as a team and create a stronger bond.
Today marks day 6 In New York! Only two days left till we are back in Wisconsin! Today at GMHC we started off the day doing file intake while a few of our members had the amazing opportunity to go get tested at the GMHC testing center. Once we were done with file intake we headed over to serve lunch again to the clients. It was amazing to see how thankful everyone was and to see how some of the clients remembered us from Tuesday! During lunch the next group went off to get tested. Once we were all together again we spent the rest of our time putting together sex kits for women that will be given out during the AIDS walk coming up soon! After we left GMHC we took the subway over to China town to the Chinese museum. Once we left the museum we went to Cozy’s Soups and Burgers for dinner. Everyone found a dish that they enjoyed and then we went to Big Gay Ice cream for dessert. Overall today was great! Time to soak up New York with the two days we have left!