Day 3- Tuesday 3/22
We woke up bright and early before the Sun and drove over to The Bridge to prep and serve breakfast. The Bridge is a day shelter in St. Louis that used to be a church. The two head individuals that prep and serve meals do so Monday-Friday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Most, if not all, of the food is donated from various religious organizations, stores, and volunteer groups around the area. Its a long process so having volunteers is definitely needed to help everything go fast and smoothly in time for serving. We helped prep the meals starting at 6:30am and started serving at 8. The individuals that utilize the shelter and the meals were greatly appreciative and so friendly. Some of them would stay and chat with us for a moment and talk about their experiences. It was very humbling to say the least. When we were cleaning up the line and head back in the kitchen to prep lunch, many individuals stayed at the tables and we learned that many stay in The Bridge all day long for shelter. 9:30 came around quickly and we sadly had to leave. The plus side to getting up very early is that we still had the whole day ahead of us!
Once we got back to our apartment we had our sessions on homelessness, eviction, and discrimination. The leading cause of homelessness is not addiction or mental illness, but poverty. Many believe being homeless is a result of someone being lazy, making bad choices, etc. but that is definitely not the case for the majority of those without homes. One article we went over during a learning session was “I’ve been homeless 3 times. The problem isn’t drugs or mental illness– it’s poverty” by Veronica Harnish. There were 8 causes of homelessness that were discussed in the article: Homelessness is expensive, people think you’re low-income/homeless it’s because you’re lazy or uneducated, lack of affordable housing (leading cause), lack of living wage –> no affordable housing, landlords can make it impossible to get a lease- regardless of savings or job, politicians won’t help, roommates are the fastest but most problematic way out of homelessness, and people uncomfortable with homelessness want you to be invisible. Our group discussion delved into each of them and we had great reflections and realizations about the issues surrounding (and causing) homelessness.
Our sessions ended and we had the whole afternoon for fun!! We started by going to St. Louis Zoo for a few hours. The coolest part was seeing kangaroos hopping around their exhibit and watching hippos swim around through their huge exhibit window. The zoo closed at 5 so right from there we went to explore Laumeier Sculpture Park! We explored almost all of the park and left as the sun was setting over the city. It was the PERFECT weather to be out and about for activities. We went home and had dinner when we met our downstairs neighbors for the week from Central Methodist University- which is just a few hours away from here. It was great getting to meet other volunteers working with Kingdom House and planning to get together again this week!!
Laumeier Sculpture Park
Our new downstairs neighbors for the week