I got up early (6:30 am) on Saturday morning to attend a Woman’s Day event at my friend Paula’s church, Union Hill Primitive Baptist Church, a primarily black church. The day was focused around serving the community. It got started with a continental breakfast and then a pep rally with a drum line and the dance team doing some cheerleading. We then split up into groups and went to about 8 or 9 different places around Huntsville that mainly serve women. Then we all came back to the church for lunch.
I chose to go to with Paula to the Downtown Rescue Mission, Women and Children’s building. I was very nervous about choosing that place to go because I am afraid of homeless people and don’t have much experience helping the homeless. The majority of my experience with them is seeing them walking up and down the main busy streets by my house because there is a different rescue mission just about 2 blocks from my house.
I’ve never been to the Downtown Rescue Mission, so I had some preconceived ideas of what it was suppose to look like from what I see on TV; but I was wrong. Here is the account of what I found when we got there. The buildings are located in the rundown part of town and are actually not downtown at all. The buildings looked well taken care of from the outside. As we approached the front door, I noticed luggage lined up along front wall leading towards the door. There were 3 women sitting on the benches talking right outside the front door. We went inside to first deliver our donations, then to serve lunch. Once inside to serve lunch, we got to see the common areas. They are actually very nice. They have TV w/cable, exercise equipment, a piano, couches, and many nice dining room tables. I was expecting to serve food in a big cafeteria with all of us in a big assembly line, but that’s not how they do it there. I found out there are 3 different groups of women: 2 of the groups (women with children and single women) are residents going through a program to get back on their feet, and the 3rd group they called transients. The women that are residents actually work at the rescue mission as part of their program. We traveled around with a cart of food stopping at each common area. The 2 resident groups had kitchenette areas with plates, cups and utensils, and the transients didn’t have a kitchen area so they where fed off of trays. Every group got the same lunch: bologna sandwiches, french fries, pie, and sweet tea.
I was a little disappointed and thankful for the trip to the Rescue Mission. There wasn’t enough work for all 13 of us to do something, so the majority of us just stood around talking to each other and the women and watching one very entertaining 3 year-old boy. The best part was that I got to see how the Rescue Mission was and that it wasn’t scary at all. The resident women weren’t scary either, but some of the transient women were a little scary.
From my obervations, the Rescue Mission doesn’t necessarily need volunteers to be physically there, they need volunteers to donate things. Since all the residents have to work at the Rescue Mission, we actually took away someone’s job of delivering the food. But when we donated all the cleaning supplies, they were so thankful and apperceive. After I got home and had time to reflect on the morning, I thought that they may like a variety of donations either monthly or quarterly. I thought about one collection could be clothes of what ever size you wear, one be personal products, one be a bra drive of what ever size you wear (I saw many women without), one be food – collect money to give as a grocery store gift card or actual food, etc.