Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Day Two: Two hour lunch breaks should be a rule

Day two of Destination: Service, Houston chapter, started off at 9:00 AM when we arrived at Goodwill for breakfast. While enjoying breakfast tacos and orange juice we chatted with some of the directors about Southwestern, sports, and the fine art of friendly teasing. For an interesting note on how many thin threads of connection intertwine between us all, a friend of one of the directors lives just down the road from me!

We then decided on who would be doing what and split up to start our respective jobs of the day. Rebecca set off to help filing different information for HR, Kelly and Maria headed back to the Swain center to work alongside the employees with various contract tasks, Vanessa assisted the accounting department by scanning old files, and I joined an employee, Perry, in calling various local Goodwill stores to gather their floor inventories. While I didn't know exactly what I was doing, I had a great time hanging out with Perry and learning a little more about the logistics of Goodwill's day-to-day operation. I enjoyed meeting all of the people who filtered through Perry's office and talking to another employee who told me a bit of his story. My conversation hinted at what Steve would later discuss, the fact that everyone has a story, and while no two stories repeat, each one shapes us to become who we are and who we will become.

Around 11:30, we went to Steve's office where Jason's Deli greeted us once again for lunch. The food was delicious but the two hour conversation that followed trumped the meal by far. We learned more about Steve life with Goodwill and his life as a person, both of which affect and inform the other. Not only did I learn more about Steve, but I learned a great deal about my fellow students and Maria. Steve asked difficult, but very informative, questions, many of which I can't answer yet, like what we will be doing in five years. I honestly have no clue, but it will no doubt involve helping people! That fact was probably evident from my answer to his first question, which addressed each of our passions. Through that question, we discussed social justice, spirituality, people and peace.

After two hours of scintillating and inspiring conversation, we realized that we should probably get back to work! I spent the rest of the day in the Swain center with Maria and two delightful women preparing doggy toothpaste to be packaged. We had to wear hairnets, but even that couldn't detract from the amazing experience I had working there. The Swain center provides contract work for people with more severe barriers to employment, giving them the ability to have a purpose and develop a sense of self worth. Most of the employees there work in group homes and come each day to the Goodwill center, where they do everything from package dried shrimp to cut ferret diapers (seriously!). Also, if you ever buy Texas Fire Crackers in Specs, the good people at Goodwill packaged them! While Rebecca and Vanessa kept their same jobs, Kelly moved to the lobby where she learned to run the switchboard from an amazing woman named Linda. We had a wonderfully rewarding and educational first full day at Goodwill!

After a little down time at the church, we went to a 59 Diner where we enjoyed excellent food and a fascinating waiter. Angel had tatoos covering his arms and when we asked about them, he informed us that he did each of them himself, proving that he was both a very talented artist and ambidextrous! And he gave us three milkshakes on the house, which was very kind! Heading back to the church for the night we swung by the Galleria which was packed for St. Patrick's Day celebrations.

It was wonderful to arrive back at the church and relax, if you can call Catch Phrase relaxing. The game slowly evolved to conversation and I was delighted to simply talk and learn more about the members of the group. Each person here has a truly loving heart and I can already tell that this week will only get better!

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