March 22, 2011
Day 1 - The Bronx Food Warehouse
Monday, March 21, 2011
Today was the first day of our volunteering adventure! Yesterday was a long day of travel so curling up in our bunk beds at the end of the night was a great feeling. Unfortunately, we had an early departure this morning in order to make it to our shift on time; in California time, it was around 3:30am when the alarms went off. By 7:30am, New York time, we were on our way to the subway in route to the Bronx. Our experience began the minute we stepped foot in the subway when we joined the working New Yorkers in their morning commute to work.
It was amazing to see the children who took the subway with the large mass of commuters. I can't imagine being that young and riding alone. As a college student in a group, I was still slightly nervous. I guess that shows what being immersed in a society does to you. Once we survived the trek through the rain, we met our mentor, Kenny. We watched a video about The Food Bank For New York City. This put faces to the mass of people we are helping by volunteering. The first part of the morning, from 9-11:30am, we worked in teams and labeled cans of dog food. We broke for lunch and returned to label cans of asparagus. Kenny was so impressed with how quickly we finished labeling the cans; he expected us to take another 1-2hrs! He gave us one more small task and we were out early.
After plenty of pictures, we left the food bank and walked through the Bronx to the subway. It was amazing to walk the streets and see the side of town most tourists do not see. Being the minority in the city is certainly a culture shock; we are definitely not in SLO anymore!
We made our way back to the hostel and reflected on our experience as a group. It is always interesting to hear other people's experiences compared to your perception of the day. We got ready and had our first group dinner at a small Indian restaurant where we did family style meal sharing. Delicious!! We finally made our way to TIME SQUARE!! It was surreal: bright lights, hundreds of people, and you can't forget... Elmo. The group split up and explored NYC in our small groups.
So far, this experience has been unbelievable! Friendships have started to bloom, a new city with amazing sites to be seen, but most importantly we are changing lives. Today, we packaged over 5,683 lbs. of food. That is enough to feel 4,371 people in New York- what an indescribable feeling.
One moment from the day that has stuck with me was Kenny telling us it almost brought him to tears that we chose to spend our Spring Break volunteering. When you can see the difference you are making, simply by giving your time, it makes the entire experience worth it. And, it is only day 1.
Enjoy following our adventure!
3rd Yr. Kinesiology