Monday, March 16, 2009

Day One: Introductions and First Impressions

After getting up at 6:00 AM, I drove from Dripping Springs to Georgetown, making great time and getting to the McCombs parking lot right on time. We packed up all of the vans and greeting the two other groups, Rebecca, Kelly, Vanessa, Maria, and I headed out. The drive seemed ridiculously short, but part of that could have been due to the fact that I sat mesmerized by the fog that blanketed the countryside bordering Hwy. 290. The rising sun and glistening mist turned every driveway and pasture into an enchanted adventure just waiting to happen, so it killed me that I couldn't get out and take pictures, but I tried my best, as you can see from the photos I posted!

We arrived at the Memorial United Methodist Church in Houston around 11:30 and settled in upstairs in the youth rooms. The church is huge and very well equipped, with raquetball courts and a nature trail that we fully intend to explore sometime this week! After eating lunch at Jason's Deli we went to the Goodwill headquarters where we met Steve, a Southwestern alum, and other Goodwill employees. Steve told us some quite interesting stories about his time at SU, especially concerning the president of the university at the time. I yawned at one point during the meeting and subsequently the rest of the group, including the Goodwill directors, teased me about it the entire time.

None of us knew much about Goodwill, except that it was a great place to both donate goods and shop, but the more we learned, the more we became excited about the prospect of helping such a wonderful organization. It turns out that Goodwill was started at the turn of the century in Boston when a Methodist minister forsook his prominent, wealthy congregation to start preaching to the dregs of the city. He desperately wanted to help the people he met there, but he discovered that giving people handouts only served to support their addictions. Instead of giving handouts he devised a system to help people learn to better themselves through the simple power of work, the same sentiment which is reflected in the Goodwill of today, though on a much larger scale.

Our initial tour of the Goodwill facility was very enjoyable, as we learned a great deal about the operation of both the headquarters and individual stores. The place is a little cramped and convoluted, but they make do with the space they have in ingenious ways. Of course, I would probably still become helplessly lost if left to my own devices, but it was a very enlightening tour! Everyone we met along the way greeted us warmly, and while I will only remember a few of the countless names I learned, each friendly face added to the positive experience that made up my first impression of the Goodwill where we will be spending the week!

To end the day, we relaxed at the church for a bit before going to the Hunan Emperor down the street. Four out of the five of us got fried rice- luckily, it was delicious! A great meal and great conversation ended a wonderful first day for Destination: Service in Houston.

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