Thursday was the first day we volunteered at the Father Mckenna Center. It was a new and fun experience from what we had done the previous days. We helped prepare and serve breakfast and lunch for the guys. We also helped do various tasks around the center. While serving we had the opportunity to get to know the guys that are part of the Father McKenna program. It was awesome to get to know the guys and where they came from.
We had a little time before helping with the Hypothermia meal, which I will talk about later, some of us went to the Archives, others went to the Arlington Cemetery, and the rest walked around and went to shops.
At the Archives they were able to see the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence. They also got to see signatures from historical figures such as Hitler, John Wilkesbooth, and numerous others.
Arlington was a great experience. They were able to see Changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown, JFK’s grave, and the internal flame.
After we got back we helped with the Hypothermia Meal. This is a program that starts in November and ends March 31st. Men apply to the program to have somewhere to stay during the winter. There are about 8 men that are allowed into the program.
We cooked the meal and served it like we did with breakfast. We had another chance to talk to the guys.
We made the (crack of dawn) trip to see Good Morning America today and boy was it chilly!! We got to see the judges from dancing with the stars and got a chance to be on tv. After GMA, we ventured to Grand Central which is chalked full of busy communters and tourists alike.
Today was our first volunteer experience at GMHC. We are all in consensus that it was an amazing, eye opening experience. All the clients and staff that came through the food line were very nice and easy to talk to. Group members went out to join clients at their tables and converse with them. As a part of GMHC’s confidentiality policies we were asked not to photograph the clients; however we were able to catch a few shots with the staff.
McKenzie and Brianna receiving instructions on serving lunch.
After we finished up at GMHC, we retired to our apartments for some much needed R&R. To finish up the day we made our way to Time’s Square for dinner (at the Hard Rock Cafe) and to see it lit up at night. Luckily we get the chance to catch up on some needed ZZZ’s before heading to volunteering again.
Hard Rock Cafe for dinner as a group.
Namaste, Jen and Rya.
The morning of our last full day started a little rocky. Multiple students weren’t feeling the greatest but after an assortment of medicines and rehydration we were back on our feet. Today was our relaxation day so we hopped in the van and took a 45 minute drive to Tela.
At the beach in Tela
The beach in Tela we went to is part of the northern Caribbean coast. The sand was really white and fine. The group got a little cabana for some shade. We spent the day swimming, tanning, and relaxing. A few of the scholars were there and it was nice to hangout with them. Oscar (different than the Oscar whose house we danced at) buried a few people in the sand. It really was just a fun time.
Oscar buried himself!
After the beach we went into town to get lunch. Lunch was simple but nice; we had pizzas. Next we went down by a beach nearby and looked at some of the artisan jewelry that was being sold. On our way home there was an accident between two big trucks. The traffic was stopped so our bus driver drove on the shoulder for a bit. He ended up getting in trouble for it but we were still able to make it home. The rules of the road are a bit different here.
Mike and Oscar, the best of friends!
Stephanie and Claudia!
To end our night we had a big party with a bunch of the scholars. We started by swimming in the pool. It was surprising to find out that most of the scholars didn’t know how to swim. Then we had tacos for dinner. We all took a million pictures with all of the scholarship students and said some of our final words. To end the night we sang some karaoke. Although our singing voices sound pretty off-key we still had a blast! Long, meaningful hugs were given and we said our last goodbyes.
Emily with the scholars
This whole experience has been amazing. The people of Honduras truly touched our hearts. It has been astonishing to see such optimism, kindness and hope from everyone we met. It has helped us strive to do more and to appreciate all the things we have back home. Each day just got better and better. It is going to be really hard to leave this beautiful place. A special thanks goes to OYE and all their scholars and coordinators. They have helped to give us a meaningful reflection of the country and make this experience great.
The day started early of us once again with a trip to Union Square Market. There were a few vendors when we first arrived but there was enough to tempt us into buying apples and a few of us bought some slices of cake from a local bread vendor. After briefly stopping at home base, we made our way to Gay Men’s Health Crisis. The two ladies working the front desk were a whoot! Workers from numerous departments came and shared a little about what they do at the center. We look toward to our first day of volunteering and meeting the clients during lunch. The next epic adventure we experienced was a trip to Stanton Island to see the Statue of Libearerty and the awsome city line on the return trip.
Tomorrow we are venturing to Good Morning America and Time Square before we head off to our volunteer experience.
Rya & Jen
For more information feel free to visit GMHC’s website: www.gmhc.org/
The World Trade Center.
The Statue of Liberty via Staten Island Ferry.