My name is Blanca Alcaraz and I am a senior at Florida International University. Growing up my community shaped, they helped me become who I am today and if there is one thing that I have loved doing my entire life, it’s been serving my community. I have always loved to give back and if there is one thing that has been consistent in my 21 years of living, it has been my community service. I have volunteered in many places and I have had the opportunity to give back to many communities but what I have gained is even greater. I think it’s the reason I continue to do it, because I learn do much from the experiences and because I once was in the shoes of those who are less fortunate so that inspires me to give back.
For this project I was able to work with Lotus House, an organization whose purpose is to improve the lives of homeless women and children. Located in Miami Fl, this organization offers support, education, sanctuary, tools and resources that empower and encourage the women in the center to better their quality of life in every level. They are advocates and visionaries founded in 2004 with what started out as a group of volunteers and in 2005 they acquired their first building in the heart of Over town
Why, When & How
It is not my first-time volunteering at a center like this, I have also collaborated with organizations like Camillus House and many church organizations as well. These places inspire me, they make me want to be a better person and they bring a sense of awareness. Being exposed to the true situation many communities go though, really makes you want to help. I was able to participate in this project through a class excursion with my honors professor John W. Bailly. Together as a class we visited the Lotus house on March 11th, 2020 and for an entire day we were volunteers, doing anything and everything they needed us to do.
On this day we went into the center and met lovely people, the director of operations and many people of the staff shared their story and gave us a tour of building and explained how the organization works. I was part of the cleaning crew that day and along with a group of classmates we began to disinfect the entire first floor of the main building at the Lotus House. I wiped windows and doors from top to bottom in the cafeteria, front lobby, children’s playroom, salon and main office.
We were also able to mop the floors with a Zamboni like mop and as we cleaned, we got to talk to some of the women that were part of this organization. As I did my job, I was able to get a glimpse of the vast amount of people that the organization serves. I also got to be a part of the staff on duty during lunch time and I thought it was a really nice experience. I was able to watch these women in fellowship with one another and how they enjoyed every meal forgetting about the troubles that were right outside.
This was an experience that overall showed me how much we can help our community if we can all come together to help those in need. This organization has proven that a little goes a long way and that giving back is not a seed that falls on dry land, because as of right now most of the staff members were once women who found themselves homeless and the Lotus Village lent them a hand. This is an organization we need to learn from, a place that has succeeded time and time again, so we need to raise awareness together, as a community, as a whole.
“Where Hope Blossoms.” Lotus House Shelter, www.lotushouse.org/.