December 2015: Volunteer Reflections
San Francisco State University students reflect on their experience volunteering for the Veterans Equity Center, now called, Bayanihan Equity Center.
1. What about volunteering is the most surprising to you (i.e., what did you least expect going into the experience) and what lesson(s) can you draw from this?
“While volunteering, the most surprising thing to me was how much the individuals who applied for affordable housing were struggling. When I was entering data, and I saw a few families of four who had a [small] annual income…I could not imagine being in their position. A lesson I drew from this is to be thankful for what I have in life and appreciate everything my parents have done for me.” – Kenneth
“I did not expect my volunteering experience to be as personal as it has been these past weeks. I felt very welcome by the VEC workers and the Filipino community as I was serving alongside them. Even if it hasn’t been that long since I began, I already can feel a sense of tight-knit community. I’ve learned that although I came in ready to give back what I could I also received a wealth of joy and wisdom from everyone in the VEC community.” – Kyra
2. What have you contributed to VEC so far? What types of tasks are you discovering that you enjoy or excel at completing? Which ones are less attractive or fulfilling?
“I have enjoyed interacting with the seniors during the events such as the Bingo Birthday Bash, Senior Luncheon, and the Exercise Classes. Their joy and laughter has been contagious. I have also learned that doing office work (i.e. filing, scanning, etc.) is something that is surprising relaxing to me.” – Kyra
“Time. There’s so much to be done, that I can’t say I actually made a clear contribution. I helped with a lot of physical and office work, but I have a lot of past experience in those fields. I was open to provide service anywhere I can help and I can say it was all an amazing experience.” – Mark
“I’ve done several things, I’ve volunteered with the Bingo Birthday Bash, BisHoP, and office work. The one I enjoyed the most was the Bingo Birthday Bash and the luncheon, I was able to engage with the seniors and I also enjoyed seeing their happy faces. I also enjoyed the BiSHoP outreach. Though I wasn’t good at it, I saw how hard it is to live in San Francisco.” – Jan
3. What observations have you made about VEC and the South of Market (workplace and/or neighborhood environment)? Have your encounters with this community changed your perspective about yourself or this community? Have you changed any of your preconceived notions?
“First of all, I had no idea what SoMa really is. I’ve been hearing rumors that there were the really ‘dangerous’ corners in the city. There may be lots of homeless people, but they were not the problem. The outrageous living expenses and housing costs really what suppress the residents of SoMa. Most of these residents are the manongs and manangs that were displaced right from the eviction from I-Hotel.” – Jan
“I noticed a lot of poverty, but I also found a sense of community. I never knew that there were so many Filipnios living in the SoMa, I always thought they were just passing through to work or shop. Now that I know what I know, I hope they are able to be successful in keeping the SoMa as their own.” – Mark
“Observations I have made about VEC and the South of Market include: the pople here are very polite and are passionate about helping others, and this community is a great place to bring people together. When I first walked to the VEC I was honestly disgusted by the streets and people I had to encounter. On my way, however, I learned that I should not judge the conditions that other people’s lives are and be thankful for what I have…” – Kenneth