This morning, on our second day of our service-learning trip to Houston, we headed down to The Beacon. The Beacon is a non-profit organization that serves the Houston homeless community through daily services, civil legal aid, counseling and mentoring and access to housing. Some people may believe this organization is a “crutch” for the homeless, but instead of only providing meals, laundry services, they offer additional resources, such as budgeting and finding homes, so The Beacon can create major impact in the lives of the homeless, especially the chronically homeless.
We showed up to The Beacon around 7 am while we waited for the other van to show up due to Dr. Hammond taking a couple wrong turns 😂. We were greeted with open arms by the employees of the organization. Once inside, we were split into two groups where we could choose to do work in the kitchen or the laundry room. In each setting, employees taught us how to preform each task and we quickly created systems to be efficient at our task. We took little time to adjust, as we quickly got to the job, which was to prepare the lunch food and to tag, wash, and dry clothes.
We got to the work and after a few hours, we took and small break in which we listened to the Chief Advancement Officer for The Beacon and she shared with us the services and history behind the organization that so many need. Soon after, we went back to our jobs where the laundry continued their tasks and the kitchen served lunch to the homeless. After feeding and washing their clothes, we felt a wave of happiness as the homeless population had smiles on their faces and felt a little better about their lives.
Our second half of the day was spent touring and volunteering at the Houston Food Bank. Servicing over 18 counties, the Houston Food Bank is the largest in the nation in distribution, and it really shows. We were amazed on the tour by the sheer complexity of their operations and how despite being so large, they rely on a backbone of volunteers to make it possible. Their amazing facilities are designed from the ground up to make their mission possible, and we learned about the massive problem that is food insecurity that many face.
We helped out by sorting their intake of food and other items. Their complex system kept us busy for the whole time and showcased the efficiency the Houston Food Bank relies on to do so much good for so many people. Every group was given as specific group of item they would get from a carousel machine and would sort it into even more specific categories. Every group had their purpose and when combined made large progress. It truly showed how every single volunteer matters for the organization no matter their size. In the short time we were there, we managed to prepare over 5,000 meals which will be sent to those in need across the southeastern part of the state.
The experiences we had at The Beacon and Houston Food Bank provided us with the exposure to truly understand the direct needs in a community. The firsthand duties we preformed from doing laundry, calling people up to get their clothes, cooking meals, interacting with other people, and packaging meals have taught us the direct and long-term impacts of service and nonprofit efforts.
Organizations like The Beacon and Houston Food Bank have dedicated their funds and utilities for the greater good of their communities, as well as the significance of volunteers and the need for boots on the ground labor. Through our involvement in these nonprofit organizations, we have a better understanding of the importance of working as a team and developing a system, as well as the importance of creating a relaxing and welcoming volunteering environment. The efforts of volunteering are most effective when both the person who is providing services and receiving service experience the benefits. Today, all the members of the Ryan Nece Foundation saw immediately the impacts their work had on other people which created the sense of community the selfless work of giving back strives to create. We all feel accomplished about today, motivated to serve more, and want to continue to bond with people and improve the living conditions of our communities… One step at a time.
Nicolas Tronocoso, Sanjeev Varma, and Logan Young