By: Stephanie Arronis
All someone ever needs is to know that someone cares. A simple smile or hello can have such an impact! Throughout these four days I came across multiple people and heard what they had to say. I have learned just how incorrect the stereotypes surrounding homelessness are in this past week. People can become homeless because of many reasons that are not limited to family problems, personal problems, and even losing their home in general from a natural disaster. Overall, the lack of affordable housing is the biggest cause of homelessness. Pretending like they do not exist will not make the issue go away. Maybe all they want was for someone to talk too and be treated like a regular human being, because just like us they too have a story to tell? This trip challenged my perceptions and opened my eyes to the ways in which we can show others human compassion. In addition, I had opportunity to work in various aspects of homelessness and hunger. Nonetheless, the moment that impacted me the most was being able to eat a meal with complete strangers and having the ability to connect with them on a personal level.
On Wednesday night Youth Service Opportunities Project (YSOP), the program we were working with, gave us the opportunity to cook, serve and eat with people who came to YSOP needing a meal. They weren’t necessarily homeless, but perhaps just hungry or needed to have a conversation. During the meal, I met two people who had a profound impact on me. These two gentlemen inspired me and opened my eyes to an unknown world. Johnny’s spirituality, confidence and motivation made me realized that those affected by homelessness do not see themselves as homeless, but rather human beings that are displaced. His love towards God makes me feel like everything is possible. I also had the opportunity to meet Howard. What shocked me the most about his story was that he was not homeless; he was just a man that needed a friend, someone to hear him. While hearing his life story I felt how our souls met and connected in a way I would never have expected! As he kept talking I held his hand and just wanted to hug him. These two random faces turned into friends in a matter of an hour. The way they impacted my life is something I cannot explain but I wish them both the best.
I am passionate about community service, what R U waiting for?
Stephanie Arronis is an Arts and Sciences freshman double majoring in Biological Sciences and Psychology with a minor in Health and Society. She has volunteered in various locations throughout the North Brunswick and New Brunswick community. This summer she will be entering her fourth season as a camp counselor at Eagles Landing Day Camp. Where her passion for kids has allowed her to develop her leadership and team building skills. She is also an active member of the First Year 15 Leadership program and Phi Mu Sorority.