A few months ago we had the pleasure of working with some energetic students visiting Australia with Rustic Pathways, a US group that runs educational travel programs for teens. Their travels include a volunteering component that enables participants to understand our country on a deeper level.
While in Sydney the group participated in several Kids Giving Back activities including our Cook4Good + Urban Walk program which involves cooking several hundred meals and then delivering them to Rough Edges, a lounge room and safe place for the homeless community. Following the delivery of meals they’d cooked, students headed off on an Urban Walk around Darlinghurst and Kings Cross. Guided by Des, a formerly homeless member of the Rough Edges community, together with a team member, the Urban Walk offered students an insider’s glimpse into life on the streets and an understanding of how this twist of fate can happen to any of us. Des shared his difficult story with generosity and passion, leaving the group with much to reflect on long after the walk came to an end.
Following our time together, Kayla, a Rustic Pathways group leader, wrote us an email:
“Firstly I just wanted to say thank you so much for organising yesterday and for creating the opportunity for our students to challenge their perspectives and give back to community. I wanted to also say thank you for inspiring me personally through learning about the work that Kids Giving Back, Our Big Kitchen, and Rough Edges do, and meeting so many exceptionally kind-natured, nurturing and open people.
In terms of feedback, the students all remarked that they were strongly impacted by their experience – I can vouch for this, as I’ve never seen them all pay so much attention and be so involved in the task at hand!
The students were giddy with excitement after leaving the kitchen, and I noted a sense of pride among them at feeling involved in work that was bigger than themselves. The fact that it was so incredibly well organised, played into this too. I have noticed that the vast majority of students really want to be involved in community service, but often lack the initiative as they don’t know where to start or they don’t want to fail at it. Having a team at the kitchen that was so dedicated to making it work, and giving our students clear directives was beyond beneficial, and as a result they all had a task and a part to play in the bigger picture. ….I was so impressed watching it pan out perfectly.
For the evening with Rough Edges ….. the students mentioned that it was an incredible experience to learn first hand from a man like Des, because never in their own lives would they think to speak to a person with an addiction or homelessness. They were astonished to find how gentle and intelligent he was as well. They said his words and his story are something they will never forget. They are also convinced that they will never ever be touching drugs now!”