Tuesday, March 20, 2012

day four - proj. open hands

Kiefer here, blogging for the peeps who helped out at Project Open Hands this morning.  POH is a nonprofit organization that helps feed those in need for those who are battling HIV/AIDS.  We started out by getting a background about how POH was began and how it grew almost overnight.  The volunteer coordinator, Rachel, then led us throughout the building which contained many stations for gathering food for people in the community to choose from.  A popular item that we helped put together was trail mix, which we got to try and was absofruitly fantastic.  We then helped cut egg cartons in half, whilst trying to not crack the eggs.  I failed at that and we lost about 3 eggs.  Sad day.

After we were done volunteering, we were offered a free lunch that all of the other volunteers get to partake in.  Seeing a room of people who are not paid for this work and all doing it for various reasons was great to see people coming together to really make a difference.  Rachel told us that this organization runs on volunteers, having over 1,000 that dedicate their time towards POH.  The lunch was delicious, consisting of two diff. soups and many salad choices.  I have 3 bowls and 1 cup of tater leek soup.  Straight up nom-city.  

Sarayray then gathered us to go out into the community of the tenderloin and check out various markets and their price ranges/differences and report back.  I was paired with Brittany and Kyrie and the first market we went to was called Simone's market.  As we were writing prices down, the manager got up and asked us if we needed any help.  We asked him the price of a bag of rice, to which he responded, "are you going to buy it or just write it down?"  We were vastly confused why the snarky tone was being brought forth.  We told him we were comparing prices to find the best deal, and he then got more defensive and proceeded to tell us to leave.  I was shocked.  Angry.  Peeved.

We didn't understand where the anger was from. After a taco bell run to calm us down (well, I needed a taco after that ordeal), we gathered back to discuss our encounters.  After sharing what had happened with us with the rest of the group, we decided that we perhaps might have been racially profiled.  This term is fairly new to me and had never happened, so I didn't really know what to think of it.  It made me realize that the owners depend on people purchasing their items, and for us to just waltz in without intention of buying anything, that must have perturbed them.  While I feel that I have the right to just browse, they took it as insulting.  This discussion we all had was really intimate and put a lot into perspective.  The fact that we are open to sharing really is a testament to how close we are getting.  It feels so effortless and for that, I am thankful.  

I believe that God had me experience this situation to realize that I am privileged and should appreciate where I come from; that for my job, I don't have to depend on others for my support system.  Also, I believe that He wanted my friends be able to calm me down and make me realize that culture shock is real, and not to be quick to anger, but understand what I can do in that situation.  

Great day, huge experience, intimate discussion.  I feel blessed.

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