As a student interning with 1Justcity, I was able to grow as an individual through the direct service experience I gained from volunteering at Oak Table. Before my time as an intern, I had my own prejudices—as most do— relating to those who are less fortunate and/or less privileged than myself, most likely through the years of socialization under my belt. It is easy for members of society, for example, to put personal blame on individuals facing certain life challenges, although instances like poverty and homelessness is not a personal problem, but a systemic issue that impacts many people.
I can say with enthusiasm that interning with 1Justcity made me a better person. The opportunity provided me with an avenue to unlearn my prejudices, not only involving the guests but also about myself. I was able to build trusting relationships with the guests, who then inspired me to grow and change some of my biases within. I was fortunate enough to hear people’s stories and see first hand just how kind, selfless, and loving the guests are at Oak Table. I realized how important it is for everyone to have support, especially those who may be seen as “unlovable”.
Now, I am well equipped to challenge stereotypes and share my experience with others who may hold similar views, as I once did. The guests, staff members, and volunteers are some of the kindest people I have ever met. I am thankful for the opportunity I was given to be a part of 1Justcity and also the experience I gained from volunteering at Oak Table.
I’m actually fearful of birds and one of the guests challenged me to face my fear... and I did!
By: Courtney West