Monday, March 21, 2016

March 21st, 2016: Heartland Alliance

Good evening Upper East Siders, Gossip Girl here...

This morning we visited Heartland Alliance, a nonprofit organization that provides services for underserved communities in Chicago, such as the homeless, refugees, and immigrants. Namely, Heartland Alliance provides services like dental care, physical assessments, mental health services, educational classes, dietary guidance, and relocation for the displaced members of the Chicago community. When we arrived, we were asked to paint three rooms, which had fallen into a state of disrepair. For many of us, this was our first experience painting, or maybe even doing physical labor. Afterward, the organization expressed their appreciation of our work, and gave us a tour of the building, which helped us better understand their purpose.

The most meaningful part for us was when the workers walked by us painting and just thanked us profusely, mentioning continuously that these rooms really needed to be painted and just how much they appreciated this. Having them tell us exactly what they needed, really made us feel like we were making an actual impact rather than a hypothetical one. Since we made that genuine impact, it highlighted how busy these service workers are, and how desperately needed these services are. It made us really grateful that we were able to do something like painting for them, so that they could continue with their work rather than take the time to either pay someone to do it, or to do it themselves.  Our reflection activity after dinner really solidified a lot of our over arching themes for the trip; we spent about an hour and a half discussing various images that showed either prejudices or hopeful possibilities in America. From this activity, we really broke down a lot of prejudices we have faced, and can take this with us as we're trying to understand whom we are helping.

Thanks for reading!

Erin and Gil.

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