A Visit from Scotland
On Friday, Martha’s Table welcomed a group of students from Scotland, the International Association for Volunteer Effort. They had been in the United States for a little over a week and were on their last day of service here. I had the opportunity to speak with a few of them, and they had nothing but great things to say about Martha’s Table.
Mark was helping in the pantry, handing out bags to the hundreds of folks for our monthly food distribution. He was very impressed by the entire organization because in Scotland, there are some government efforts to help the homeless, but very little for people with low income. He was even more impressed that the services for the low income people were being provided, mainly, by volunteers.
I also had the opportunity to speak with Richard, one of the other advisers who came with the group. He commented on the relaxed environment, how the volunteers actually interacted with one another, and how everyone’s spirits seemed to be so high all the time. He asked me what I was studying in school, and I told him that I was studying politics but this internship didn’t directly apply to my studies. He wholeheartedly disagreed, and expressed how the worst politicians are those who don’t get a chance to know their communities, so grassroots organizations such as Martha’s Table are the best places to begin that education.
Three of the students, Daryl, Ashleigh, and Stacey had a slightly different opportunity than the rest of the volunteers. They were responsible for cleaning different rooms and equipment for the Children’s Program. After our brief discussion about cleaning the rooms, we had the chance to speak about the homelessness issue in the United States versus the issue in Scotland. In Scotland, the homeless are also mainly in cities, but the issue seems to be less tumultous than it is here. However, they also commented on the action being taken to combat that problem. They too commented on the positive environment, which made the work that is done at Martha’s Table even more inspiring.
When the group had completed their duties, they all gathered around the food prep table. Overall it seemed to be a positive experience, as some of them recounted their days to me. At the end, they presented Martha’s Table with a paper weight from Scotland and pins for all the volunteers and workers. Although they will be leaving to go home, we exchanged contact information to update each other on our respective volunteer experiences and to swap pictures from their volunteer experiene. We appreciate all they have done for us!