It’s hard to believe that I’m flying across the country tomorrow morning! For the next six weeks, I’ll be working at the Women’s Lunch Place in Boston, Massachusetts, devoting my time and energy to serving women who have experienced trauma, abuse, and loss. The organization provides a safe and welcoming environment. Visitors eat a hot, nutritious meal and have access to free medical care, laundry facilities, a resource center for housing and employment, as well as creative and athletic classes. All of these services aim to restore hope and dignity to women from all situations, backgrounds, ages, and classes. As a full-time volunteer, I will focus on preparing and serving meals, as well as helping visitors in the resource center.
Throughout Spring Quarter and in the first weeks of summer, July 4th has seemed a long way away. If I’m being honest, it’s only been this week that I’ve finally started packing — stuffing my life into a suitcase and preparing to ship myself across the country to serve this community of women in any way I can. To an outside observer, I look frantic and unprepared as I try to make sure I have everything I need.
But that’s not quite true. In the past months since I found out that I was selected for the fellowship, I have worked to prepare myself mentally and emotionally for this opportunity. I attended meetings to learn about Jean Donovan’s life, her purpose, her passion. I put a lot of thought into how I can honor her through my own experience. I’ve prepared to live simply and devote my time and energy completely to this community. I’ve tried to limit my expectations, so that I can focus instead on what I can bring to the community each new day. I suppose packing has not seemed as important; it’s been more important to me that I live in a way that reflects balance, faith, and mindfulness.
As I finish packing, I know that I cannot be completely prepared for the experience I am about to have. I will undoubtedly develop a new appreciation for the life I have and the luxuries I enjoy. I predict that my attitude will change especially in regard to food; preparing meals for women who otherwise would not have them will certainly make me appreciate the fact that I’ve always known where my next meal was coming from. I hope that my skills will add something new to the organization, and that I can connect with individual visitors to have a positive impact on their lives.