MIM Spring 2020 Service Project: Alexandra Rodriguez

Biography

Photo by Audri Rodriguez, CC by 4.0

Alexandra is a current junior in the Honors College at Florida International University. She plans to pursue a degree in Accounting and earn her certifications and licenses to become a CPA. Born and raised in Miami, she enjoys giving back to the community she has called home for so many years.

Volunteering at Lotus House Miami

a blanket of hope by alexandra rodriguez

Blankets and notes prepared by the children at Lotus House Miami, Photo by Alexandra Rodriguez (CC by 4.0)

Who?

The institution I volunteered with was Lotus House Miami. They aid women and children in the community, while combating homelessness. As human rights advocates, Lotus House continues to change the lives of many families every day.

Why?

Although we went to Lotus House as a class, I still found this place to be incredibly special to me. As a woman, seeing a place like Lotus House helping and empowering females was inspiring and invigorating. It’s also remarkable to help women in a community that we both call home.

How?

Since our Miami in Miami class decided to visit and volunteer at Lotus House, I was able to here about their impact and generosity. Thanks to our professor, John W. Bailly, I had the pleasure of meeting the powerful women that operate Lotus House. Working closely with these women meant that I was able to establish connections with them. After this experiencing, I look forward to visiting and connecting with them in the future.

Where and What?

On the day of visiting Lotus House, we began our day by listening to the stories of the volunteers that make everything possible. One of the women that spoke told her story and how she used to benefit from the help of Lotus House. Now, she is able to give back and help women who were in her position. After that, we split up in to groups and began different tasks. My group began by clearing out the garage/unloading station. We were told that the floor and area had not been cleaned for years; they desperately needed our help to finish this mammoth task. After removing all the garbage and scrubbing down the floors, we were left with a shiny, new area. All the other volunteers that came in later that day had something remarkable to say about the newly cleaned space.

While cleaning the floors, we were told that a few new mattresses had been delivered and had to be placed in different rooms. We quickly took the mattresses up the elevator and replaced those who really needed it. I was told that some people had been asking for new mattresses for months, but they only get a certain amount delivered every couple of months.

After finishing up with the cleaning and unloading mattresses, my classmates and I began cleaning the chairs, desks and computers on every floor. Unfortunately, during the time, COVID-19 was becoming a serious virus. Lotus House wanted to take precautions and make sure all the areas were organized and sanitized, especially the floors with children. We wiped down computers, book shelves, sofas and anything and everything we possibly could.

When?

Summary

I like to think of Lotus House as a “blanket of hope.” I thought about this when I came across blankets with notes, stacked up on a shelf. I asked one of the volunteers what these were for and who made them. She explained to me that those blankets were donated for people who were homeless on the streets and have no supplies. The notes attached to each blanket were hand-written by children, urging the homeless to remain positive and hopeful. I had never seen such a personable touch to a donation before. The homeless people in Miami not only need supplies and tools but also words of encouragement and happiness. It’s true that as human we need some physical, material items to survive, but we also desperately require emotional words to heal our souls.

“Everyone needs someone to provide emotional support. If you can’t find one. BE ONE.”

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