Lost and Found

Contributed by: Michelle Kunicki

I’ve sat at work for the past week trying to figure out what to write for this blog; I’ve sat at home trying to figure out what to write for this blog; and, to put it simply, there is so much that I want to say! How do I put it into a few paragraphs of what volunteering in Grenada has done for me?  So, it hit me: just write about one moment that stands out, and it will all come together on its own!

For two weeks this year, I got to live with my boyfriend  during his last term at SGU. On top of the excitement of being around him for more than a week on a beautiful island, I was going  to be spending some of  my time volunteering with members of the S.O. organization.  Doing volunteer work abroad had always been something I wanted to do, and here I was, finally getting the opportunity to do so. I had done a bit of volunteer work at home and worked as an after-school teacher when I was in college; however, I was unprepared for the lessons I learned (and relearned) thanks to volunteering in Grenada.

The moment of volunteering that changed me was when I visited the Dorothy Hopkin Centre for the Disabled on the 11th day of my stay in Grenada. The day before, I had a slight breakdown of being away from home for so long, not having chicken breast at the local grocery store for 10 days, no more dumplings at the Upper Campus stop,  and missing a bus trying to get to campus before dark. I started to wonder, “where in the world am I? I can’t seem to find my place here!” I was feeling so defeated by this little island, but Nick helped me regroup and get back out there and volunteer the next morning.  So there I was, at the DHC with some fellow S.O.’s  ready to help out with the residents.  It was going to be  “field day” with the residents at a nearby open field near the center. All we had was each other and about 10 bocce balls. What were we to do? So we came up with the idea of seeing who could roll them the furthest. They enjoyed themselves so much! They didn’t care about who won or who lost. They were just out there, having a good time with each other, and with us. We had running/wheelchair races, played Simon Says and even did a stint of “red light/green light.” After all the fun, it was time for some snacks and cold water.

While everyone was enjoying the goodies, there was a young man standing by the field, watching the events before him. I walked over and started to talk to him, watching the residents having a great time. He asked me if I was from the States and if I was enjoying my time in Grenada; and then, he began to talk to me about how wonderful it was that we were out there with the residents from the DHC; that we there experiencing life in Grenada beyond the resort, beyond the beach. He asked me if I was enjoying what I was doing with the residents and with a huge smile on my face, I said “yes, I am really enjoying being with them!”  He was happy to hear this, and went further to say:  “it’s a lovely thing to see, because they too, are God’s creations” and continued to compliment us on our work. With this conversation and the company of the residents, I no longer felt lost in Grenada. I was found. I had a purpose; I was doing something much more than just staying on an island for two weeks or even doing volunteer work; I was getting to know the people of Grenada and helping some of them smile for a few hours out of the day.

Volunteering at the Dorothy Hopkin Centre and at the Limes After School Program reminded me of the importance of giving your time to others. The simple act of spending time with that person, whether it be throwing a bocce ball down a field or giving them a meal, can mean the world to that person; it can even mean the world to yourself. My time in Grenada went above and beyond the term ‘vacation’ and became something much more for me: I was in Grenada, LIVING, in every sense of the word. The residents of the DHC (and the young man) opened my eyes to what I was doing there. They were such a pleasure to be around and I will never forget that day and their smiles and enthusiasm to have fun. For anyone who may be a little hesitant about going, reach outside your comfort zone for just an hour. With just one hour, you can be reminded, just like I was, that the simplest things in life are what can make us the happiest.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

How You Can Help

– Keep an eye out for our weekly ‘Volunteer Opportunities’ email and plan to join us on our next trip to the Dorothy Hopkin Centre for the Disabled. Volunteers play games with the residents and lift their spirits while helping the employees to watch over them and keep them safe.

– Help out with the upcoming SO Charitable Bake Sale this Thursday, April 1st. Consider baking a treat (RSVP here) or volunteering your time to sell baked goods. All proceeds will go directly to the Dorothy Hopkin Centre.

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