My community service was completed at the YWCA of Quincy, an organization that provides temporary and permanent housing for homeless women with children. My mom is a case manager there, so I had some idea what to expect, but not entirely. I was told I would be helping the financial director with whatever she needed done, and apparently she needed me to take inventory of the books in their library. It was very time-consuming, tedious work, which is probably why they needed a volunteer to do it. Primarily, all I did was take inventory of the current books, add in the books that weren't in inventory, and organize the books into categories. While I was there, I experienced some things that threw me off, but are regular happenings at the YWCA. A woman came into the office to see about being placed in the program. Apparently, this is a very complicated process. The women have to be single mothers, and have to have either a history of mental illness, substance abuse, or disability. Depending on what their issue is, they either are placed into temporary or permanent housing. I didn’t get to hear much of the conversation, because they shut the door (shucks!), but it didn’t sound like they had any available housing and I think they had to just place her on a waiting list.
About an hour later, one of my mom’s clients came in the office with her two sons. One is around 3 and the other looks to be about 2. This is a complete guess, as I’m not around children very often AT ALL. So anyway, their mother’s computer was getting repaired, and she had to use a computer in the office to finish her homework, and didn’t have anyone to watch the boys, so they got to hang out in the same room as me! (Great!!..not) Again, I’m not often around kids, and after that experience, I can definitely wait a little longer. They were running all around the room screaming like chicken’s with their heads cut off and they were knocking over my book piles and spilled my coffee and just being crazy (for lack of a better word) in general! Thankfully my mom came in and tried to calm them down and keep them occupied and out of my way while her client was on her computer. After they left, the office was much calmer, but I now am 150% sure that accounting, not social work, is the right field for me. (Not that there was any doubt before.)
I guess what I realized was that there is a much greater need for volunteers than I realized in an organization like the YWCA, because these case managers certainly don’t have time to deal with stuff like taking inventory of their books when they have a million other things going on. When I first signed up to volunteer there I wasn’t sure they’d have enough for me to do, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I wasn't really looking forward to the work the first day I went in, but I ended up enjoying it and found myself going in early the rest of the days to make sure I got everything done.
Posted at 11:16 PM by James Cosgrove