Miami in Miami Spring 2020 Service Project by Juliana Pereira

Lotus House

On Wednesday, March 11th the Miami in Miami class volunteered at The Lotus House. The Lotus House is a nonprofit women’s and children’s homeless shelter located in Overtown, Miami. They provide free housing, meals, health care, several kinds of counseling, education for kids and adults, training, amenities, clothing, and so much more in support to women and their children. The Lotus family provides support for these families to heal and grow, so that they may get back on their feet and rebuild their lives and regain independence.

On our day of service, we helped “behind the scenes” in the kitchen prepping meals, on the loading dock cleaning and organizing, in the donation closet inventorying, and in the common area sanitizing. While these tasks don’t help a tenant directly, it facilitates daily operation of the shelter. Which in turn allows the shelter staff to work more efficiently and effectively.

My team and I were first stationed at the loading dock. We sorted through former tenants’ belongings that were left behind. A couple items were able to be reused, but most of the items were to be discarded. Once the truck was fully loaded, we scrubbed the floors and wiped the shelves. A delivery of emergency COVID-19 supplies arrived. We organized those supplies on the shelves. The loading dock was squeaky clean and ready for use.

I was then tasked with sorting and organizing a couple boxes of donations in the gift closet. The staff explained that gifts aren’t only for Christmas. They use this present stock year-round on birthdays, milestones, graduation, holidays, raffles, etc. It’s important that the tenants, especially the children, feel happy and loved at the shelter. Many of the mothers are not able to afford a birthday gift for their child, so the shelter is ready to put a smile their face.

We were invited to eat lunch at the shelter’s cafeteria. It was such a pleasure to meet more of the shelter’s staff members. We were also thanked by many tenants for being there and for our hard work.

On our last task, we were able to get a bigger glimpse of the shelter. We went floor by floor sanitizing the tables, chairs, and sofas in the common areas and family rooms. We could tell the messier floors were the children’s floors. We met one boy who was looking for help on his math homework, but unfortunately, we had to go.

It was a great experience at the Lotus House. The atmosphere was light and lively despite all the sad stories that lead each person there. The shelter is definitely a place I will be volunteering at again.

Chicken Key Turtle Sculpture

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Seafood Festival at the Deering Estate was canceled. Nevertheless, we were still able to construct our project! Our team wanted to piece together trash collected from Chicken Key into a turtle sculpture. The project would reflect on all the liter in our ocean, and how it is affecting our marine life. We wanted to raise awareness on the issue of pollution. Nicole Patrick partnered with The Deering Estate to organize and host frequent clean ups of the key right off the estate. This one little island was being cleaned almost every weekend, and still there is so much trash that incessantly washes up there. That is one island, imagine everywhere else.

Leave a Reply