Service and Reflection

Service, to me, means seeing need and figuring out the most efficient way to address that need.  I think that service is only successful when the second party welcomes what I provide, participates in the project, or is somehow engaged in the work I’m doing.  I never want to make assumptions about what someone needs; instead I want to ask them if they need anything and discover how I can use my skills to help.  This mindset fuelled the idea for our Live IT project.  After leading a Christmas party sing-along at Clare Housing, the volunteer coordinator emailed us saying how much she loved our performance and how it truly touched the residents present.  She also briefly commented on how she is constantly trying to bring more residents to events and even though 25 of them say they plan to attend, only seven will actually show.  When I heard this, a light bulb went on–the volunteer coordinator needed help.  Bethany and I decided that this was the project calling us and this is where our skills could be used to serve others.
The first few weeks of our project will be spent having casual one-on-one conversations with the 45 residents of Clare Midtown.  These conversations will be used to 1. get to know the residents and allow them to understand who we are and the details of our project, and 2.  figure out what community means to each of them.  We will ask questions to discover ways to better build a community in Clare Midtown.  Through these conversations, I know that will we learn an overwhelming amount of information.  Not only will we learn how the residents want to build a community, we will also begin to understand them as people.  Forming relationships will be an incredible experience that will teach us how to interact with all different kinds of people.

Most of our learning will happen when we process the information we gather and when we consciously reflect on the progress of our project.  Bethany and I plan to reflect daily on our experiences at Clare Housing.  We also plan to be in regular contact with Eily in order to keep her updated on our project and receive her feedback.  Our reflections can be used as a tool to teach others about the successes/failures we experience and how we deal with them.  We are hoping to use our project as a model for the future on “how to build a community.”  Ideally, this could be repeated in many settings–retirement homes, hospitals, schools, etc.

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