Today I woke up and ran down to the ARCH (Austin Resorce Center for the Homeless) orientation. After my experience with the blind homeless man last Saturday (see my "ok, lesson learned" entry below) I decided that it is no longer enough for me to donate money & toiletries, I actually need to volunteer my time. I have tried to volunteer with other organizations like Food Not Bombs in the past, but the Austin chapter never returned my emails. So the ARCH it is.
Orientation was very interesting & I learned a lot. For instance, there are over 6,000 homeless people in the city of Austin. The ARCH is a mens facility at night but during the day both men & women come in to do their laundry, shower, get medical attention, check their email, get phone messages, & even make art. Yes - they have an art studio upstairs! The city provides all the supplies & they have one art show every year in which all the proceeds go to the artist themselves. I was told that many homeless people live off of that money all year long. I got a tour of the entire building & it's really inspiring to see all the things they do to help these people. The building itself is entirely self sustained, they filter their own rain water, generate all their electricity through solar paneling, & are about to start growing their own veggies & herbs on a patio near the roof. I give them a big high 5 for all their efforts. It's a daunting task, but they are doing their best & need more volunteers! They don't ask for a huge commitment, just whatever you can do. If you would like to volunteer your time please contact Front Steps & go through orientation like I did today. If you are busy busy busy then you could donate blankets (it's getting cooler) or things like jackets, tampons, soap, toilet paper, sunscreen, & disposable razors. If you are reading this & you do not live in Austin I urge you to get online & find & organization in your city to lend a hand to.
There was a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson in the paper work they gave me today, it read "It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life: that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself."
That kinda made my day.