I would like to say that Bethany just summed up our experiences over the past few weeks so beautifully and honestly. After every event we host, it seems that we go through a full spectrum of emotions. First we are anxious awaiting the start of an event, then we are bummed when there isn’t a huge turnout, then we are excited to meet a new resident, then we question the role these events play in the culture at Clare Midtown, then we doubt our worth and contribution to the organization, then we somehow come full circle and feel proud of ourselves for being a presence and just trying. Based on feedback from the residents we are slowly getting to know, it seems like our efforts are being appreciated. Since we are here for such a short time, we realize that our project is simply the catalyst for what will happen throughout the rest of the summer and for years to come. Our big challenge right now is deciding which events appeal to the largest number of residents, and which events we want to pass along to volunteers when we leave. We are also working on getting items donated for Clare Cafe in order to ensure sustainability. If anyone has ideas for coffee or food donations (we have already tried Dunn Bros, Breadsmith, and Kowalskis) please shoot us an email. We really only need enough coffee and food for about 10 residents on Sunday mornings.
The bowling event we hosted on Sunday night was by far the best experience we have had at Midtown. We spent the whole week getting excited for bowling because every time we passed the front desk at Midtown it seemed that more residents had signed up to bowl. In the end, we had around twenty names of people who planned to attend. However, we showed up to a community room of only three residents and our friend Debbie, the volunteer coordinator for Clare. I went and knocked on many doors, checking to see if people had simply forgotten about bowling, but no one answered. I soon realized that this small group actually contributed to the success of the event because it was a very manageable number. Bethany and I were so excited to see a new resident eager to bowl with us. We had never met this resident before and he said he had been looking forward to bowling all week. With the smaller group, we were all able to ride the bus together and share one lane for bowling. All of us had a blast taking pictures, getting to know each other, and improving our bowling techniques. One resident probably got over four strikes. Bethany and I realized that the event was so successful because the residents had a chance to leave Midtown, ride a bus, and bowl (something all of them hadn’t done for years) with friends. We think that outings will be the most successful events because it allows residents to leave the quiet halls of Midtown and head out into the community.
We learn something new every day at Midtown–from residents, staff, or through our extensive reflection. We are looking forward to the events planned this week. On Saturday night we are having a potluck dinner with some form of music (maybe a sing-along type of thing). We will keep you posted on how it goes!