MIM Fall 2019 Service Project: Alejandro Ruiz-Paiz

Throughout this semester, which was filled with incredible adventures and unparalleled first-hand learning experiences in every corner of Miami, one of the aspects of the class which I am definitely most thankful for is the service learning. Community service is a deed which one can never do too much of and is truly one of the most rewarding feelings in the world. Community service, to me, means that I am able to use the blessing which I have been given in my life in order to make a difference in someone else’s life who may not be as fortunate. This semester I was thankful to have had the opportunity to volunteer at Camillus House. Camillus House is a non-profit organization that provides a plethora of opportunities to homeless people who are in need of different services, such as housing, food, clothes, and much more. Through my service at Camillus House, I feel as if I gained a deeper meaning of what service truly means and it honestly never resonated with me more than when it did there. I feel this way because while we served at Camillus House, we were joined by past members of Camillus House who were helped through difficult times and were able to rebuild their lives. I learned the true meaning of service when I saw people who were serving alongside me who didn’t have much money but were still thankful for what they had and were eager to give back to the organization that gave them all that they had.

Throughout our day at Camillus House we did many different things to help in any way we could. We started off the day by arriving very early in the morning and helping with setting up the decorations for the Christmas season. This factor, even though it may seem small and unimportant, was something that I truly appreciated in the fact that Camillus House makes sure to provide the best quality service to the individuals they help by doing things such as providing clothes that looks new, serving good food, and putting up nice seasonal decorations. I truly respected this small touch because I believe that it makes a great impact on the individuals who come to Camillus House and not only receive nice clothes and food, but also are welcomed by jolly decorations that might, even if only for a second, take their mind away from all their stresses and allow them to enjoy Christmas decorations which they may not have the chance to see very often. Therefore, part of our service included putting up a Christmas tree and other Christmas theme decorations which serve the purpose of creating a happy environment for the people who come to Camillus House in seek of help. After helping set up the tree, we took part in helping set up the biggest fundraiser of the year in which Camillus House takes part of annually. This fundraiser consists of an auction of hundreds of different items that are donated to Camillus House by very generous people who appreciate the work that Camillus House does. The main portion of the donated items consisted of very expensive wine bottles and incredible art pieces. We helped out by assisting load, transport, and set up all of the items by moving them from the Camillus House campus and taking them to the location of the fundraiser, which was held at the Hilton Miami Downtown. Once we arrived at the Hilton, we unloaded all of the packages from the trucks and began setting up the event by organizing all of the items by number and then setting up the layout the actual event. It was truly an incredible day filled with joy, service, and learning and I genuinely appreciated every second of it. Despite not having been able to do more work directly with the people in need, the Camillus House workers reassured us multiple times that the service we were providing that day meant the world to them and the organization as a whole, and that we shouldn’t feel as if our service was any less valuable because of it, and this was genuinely nice to hear and see how appreciative they were of the things we were doing. 

Camillus House is truly an incredible organization that not only provides housing and food to the poor, but they go above and beyond in providing a plethora of different services and opportunities to homeless people. For instance, some of the services they provide the less fortunate with include food, housing, rehabilitation, clothes, career development, and much more. Therefore, they are not just providing food and housing to people in need, but they are truly helping them rebuild their lives so that they can live and prosper on their own. For instance, they have an incredible program where they help their members who have interests in cooking, receive culinary degrees from Miami Dade College. By providing them with this opportunity they are giving them the toolset needed in order to go out into the real world and make a true living for themselves. It truly impacted me how incredible this opportunity is because while we were serving, they were having their graduation for their culinary students that day, and we were able to talk to one of the members who was graduating and she was genuinely overjoyed with happiness and thankfulness for having the opportunity to go out and do what she loves. All in all, my service at Camillus House genuinely helped me take a step back and truly give thanks for all that I am fortunate enough to have. I am grateful that I was able to interact and learn from the people who had so much less but yet were still incredibly thankful for the blessings they had. It helped me realize that some problems in our day to day lives that seem dire to us truly are nothing in comparison to the problems that so many people around the world are dealing with. Camillus House is sincerely an incredible organization that does amazing things for the community of Miami and I am genuinely excited to return to serve again soon and I truly advise everyone to volunteer here if they have the opportunity to do so.

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