Aiding the Innocent

Saturday morning, 7:45am. I began thinking, ”Will they like me?” “What If I say something wrong?” “Will I look like someone scary to them?” On my way to UMOM all these questions were racing through my mind like a dust devil across the Arizona desert. UMOM is an organization for homeless families, children, and a place where unemployed adults and parents can go to get back on their feet again. This was my first experience in volunteering for the homeless. So yes you could say that I was a little nervous and didn’t really know what to expect. I did know that whatever happened, It was for someone who was in desperate need of help, and I was more then willing to provide as much help was needed.

As I approached the gates I saw the welcoming UMOM sign, my heart sank into my stomach. I was a little nervous, ok no, I was thinking “What have I gotten myself into?” The man at the gate motioned us through, and we cautiously proceeded through he compound, until we arrived at the day care center. There I checked in with the day care center supervisor, who in my opinion appeared as a kind gentle soul, who was over worked and underpaid. I couldn’t help but notice the distinct odor of dirty diapers and unwashed bodies and clothing. All I could think was, ”These poor children playing in their fecal stained clothes, not having the luxury of cleaned clothes.” As I was processing what I was encountering the kind women graciously directed me over to the arts and crafts table, where I was to design a name tag for myself.

By that time I began to feel less anxious about volunteering. The women explained to me my choices which included supervising outside play, dress up, or reading on the bean bags for story time. I joined the children playing dress up. There I met a sweet innocent yet unkept petite blonde girl named Emily. She caught my eye due to her being the only blonde present.

Through this common characteristic not only did I feel comfortably connected to this absolute stranger, but I could sense that this young girl felt comfortable as well, by something as simple as sharing the same hair color. Although we had fun in make believe land with Emily as Cinderella and myself as the wicked step mother. The foul smells assaulting my olfactory senses kept me from being fully engaged. I had to excuse myself from Emily and step outside to reassure myself that I could get through this.

I glanced up at the clock, and was overcome with a sense of relief. It was time for me to go, but I realized that by leaving It meant I had to say goodbye to Emily. It hit me like a ton of bricks that worrying about whether or not I was liked should have been the least of my worries. These underprivileged children were just thrilled to have me play with them and give them my undivided attention that they so desperately desired. This entire experience was not about me at all. My fears did not matter. It was more then that. It was something as simple as my presence and being there for someone in need.





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