Tuesday, November 19, 2013 Volunteer Maryland Coordinators, Simon Lee, Ruth Santa Maria, Andi Blohm and Ashia Moultrie joined Paul’s Place volunteers in doing service. Once a month, the VMCs will take part in a service project with different organizations throughout Maryland. The purpose for these service projects is to provide opportunities to connect and understand strong volunteer program practices and give back. The VMCs are busy at work each day with building and strengthen the sustainability of the volunteer programs at their service sites, and truly enjoy taking time out of their schedules to give back and fill thier cups of life with moments and experiences of hoy and wisdom.
Paul’s Place is located in Southwest Baltimore, in the neighborhood of Washington Village/Pigtown. Paul’s Place provides programs, services, and support that strengthen individuals and families in the Washington Village neighborhood and surrounding communities.
The day began with our cups empty and ready to receive an abundance of love and light. Greetings, salutations and a heartfelt welcome form the staff and members of Paul’s Place opened up the day. “Share the love,” is what Paul’s Place guests call this high energy, fun filled warm welcoming. Staff and Paul’s Place ambassadors, (long time volunteers that help with the facilitation of the volunteer programs) come together each morning and read words of wisdom and encouragement. We each took turns introducing ourselves to the group receiving a heartfelt “Hey Simon, Ruth, Andi, Ashia and Elena,” then we read an encouraging statement. Each VMC took a turn reading and when they were done with their reading the next person would come up and “share the love.” This was a gift of a hug from one person to another, filling their cups. Simon, Ruth, Andi, Ashia shared a bit about their work with VolunteerMaryland.
Our first assignment was the lunch room. Everyday Paul’s Place offers its volunteers and guests a healthy nutritious hot meal. This gives guest who visit Paul’s Place daily the opportunity to receive a hot meal that they may not be able to get on their own, due to facing challenges with homelessness or substance abuse. Each VMC helped serve the meal of the day which was; ham, potatoes and a choice of salad or cabbage with a side of a healthy banana.
As guests we were also offered this fantastic hot meal prepared by the volunteers. Then some of us were whisked away to lend a helping hand in the Market Place.
Paul’s Place also has a clothing bank called the Market Place. Here guest can to shop in a friendly space for clothing for themselves and their family. Each guest is also provided with a personal shopper to help them during their time in the Market Place. This particular day the Market Place was not open, so our job was to help the wonderful volunteers, Nancy and Betty who volunteer three or four days per week in the Market Place. It was our job that day to help with organizing, labeling and sorting the clothing donations that come into Paul’s Place. Through this experience our cups were again filled a bit more.
Once we finished in the Market Place, we headed to the Food Bank to put together food bags that would be handed out with the Thanksgiving baskets.
In addition to volunteering with great people Josh Bynes, Corey Graham and Lardarius Webb from The Baltimore Ravens were also there to serve. How amazing is that!
It meant so much to us to see the smiles of the guests at Paul’s Place. We were all star struck and VMC, Simon Lee got the opportunity to serve the hot meal of the day alongside the players.
After all the learning, sharing, laughing, organizing and picture taking our cups were full. Full of warmth, love, heer, understanding, and an overflowing appreciation and gratitude of the importance and service Paul’s Place offers to its community. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to visit this special organization. The VMCs and I truly appreciate everything we learned and look forward to returning to Paul’s Place again and again. I want to encourage any of my Maryland readers to make the trip and visit Paul’s Place. If your cup is running on empty, I know you can fill it up at Paul’s Place.