I know it’s been awhile, but that’s because I was off having one wonderful adventure.
Today, my friend Cara’s Facebook status read that she left her heart in San Diego – and I can’t help but agree with her. Our team fly back from California (a.k.a. the promised land) on Sunday morning (think 1 a.m.) and since then, it’s been weird readjusting to New York, classes, and “real life”.
Basically, my outreach trip to San Diego was absolutely incredible. I don’t even know how else to describe it. Our team stayed in cabins at the Kamp of America campgrounds in Chula Vista. Most mornings, we’d wake up around 5 a.m. and drive over to St. Vincent de Paul. There we either worked in the back of the kitchen or served breakfast to some adult homeless, until about 7:30 a.m. Then for the next hour or so, we would clean up the cafeteria and get ready for the lunch rush.
Afterwards, we’d drive over our awesome mini-vans to StandUp For Kids. The San Diego location does outreach work, but also has a center for homeless and street kids to come, hang out, eat a good dinner, shower, etc. In the morning and early afternoon, we did chores around the place, from cleaning to organizing their food donations. We had to throw out so much food that had expired years ago – it was heartbreaking. After our chores, we’d go back to our campsite to unwind and eat lunch. Around 4-ish, we drove back to StandUp to meet the day’s volunteers and the kids. Most were actually older, eighteen to about twenty-two years old. We’d serve dinner, eat together and hang out for a few hours.
It was incredible having the opportunity to meet some of the homeless in San Diego. I’m really glad we got to work with both adults and youth. It was so striking and humbling how appreciative everyone was for a simple meal or conversation. It was also great to have people open and to listen to their stories – everyone had a different set of circumstances that led them to where they were. And the people we talked to were some of the funniest, brightest, and most honest people you’ll ever meet. It can’t even be put into words. The craziest moment for me was when I met a twenty year-old guy who went to the same elementary school as I did, back in Florida. To meet him 3,000 miles away from my hometown, living in such different circumstances but being so much alike was just astounding.
Suffice to say, it was the most rewarding week of my life, easily.
And, just like all of our supervisors and volunteers begged us to, we had some fun too. On Thursday we walked a bit of Balboa Park, San Diego’s answer to Central Park, and on Friday we went to Torrey Pines, where we went to the Pacific Ocean and did some hiking. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really take pictures at the places where we volunteered due to privacy reasons, but here are some of my favorite from the trip. (And yes, that includes a snapshot of one the best Mexican meals ever. I’ve been dreaming of carne asada tacos ever since…)
OH yeah. And I got to spend my spring break with eleven of the best people you’ll ever meet. We’re so obsessed with each other, it’d be lame if we weren’t such awesome people. ♡
If your school or college offers any service or immersion trips, I say go for it! Seriously, you won’t regret it. It was an incredible experience. So tell me now, what have you all been up to?