I am a freshman attending Florida International University’s Honors College, working on a Bachelor in Science degree in Marine Biology. My long-term goal is to use this degree to do research for a university or a large company, however, my goal for my college career is to pursue multiple interests, and be exposed and experience as many things as I can.
The Lotus House is a homeless shelter for women and children funded by the city of Miami. In order to live there, people must apply and be approved by the city on a first based call system. They accept anyone who was not an addict, with the exception of marijuana.
This volunteer hours opportunity was part of the Miami in Miami class when Professor John Bailly used it as one of his lectures. It was a delightful, amazing, and unexpected experience that was unique to anything I had ever done before.
I always kept to myself during this class; I was always nervous or awkward around others, especially when they were much more experienced than me. I am the youngest one of the class, and most of my colleagues will be off to graduate school or law school after this year, so it was difficult for me to make friends with my upperclassmen. However, spending time with Nicole in the playroom was one of the most amazing experiences I have had this entire year. I made a connection that I thought I never would, and although the timing so close to quarantine was off, I was glad I made a friend like Nicole. This experience really helped me open up to my classmates, and I’m so grateful.
WHERE AND WHAT
Nine of us were the sanitation group, responsible for cleaning the different rooms on the first floor. Nicole Patrick and I were assigned to sanitize the children’s’ playroom, which was a lot of fun, however, there was a lot of stuff to clean. Our goal was to finish before lunchtime so the kids could play after, but it, unfortunately, took longer than expected, and we eventually had others come to help us, like Fuzzy and Gianmarco. We were able to finish before lunch ended so that the children could play.
The Lotus House was such an amazing opportunity where I could engage in conversations with others and learn about a part of Miami I had never even known existed. I learned about the struggles and obstacles these women and children go through, but I was also reminded that no matter the circumstances, we are all human and that we all have similarities. All children love to play, all people enjoy their hobbies, and everyone sits down to enjoy a good meal. I loved our last non-virtual excursion, and I know I will be back to volunteer again.
Beatrice Gonzalez, Community Outreach Director
217 NW 15th Street
Miami, Florida 33136
“Contact Us.” Lotus House Shelter, lotushouse.org/contact-us/.