Carrie Matthews is a senior sociology student at the University of Dayton who hopes to build a career supporting those with mental illness and addiction. As part of her program at UD, Carrie needed to fulfill required service hours and so she connected with St. Vincent De Paul Dayton. Now, Carrie shares her experience.
UD really got me involved in volunteering like this for the first time. I’ve done a few small service projects before, but this was very different -10 hours a week, mostly helping with the Men’s shelter but also serving breakfast some mornings at the Women’s and Family shelter. I had no idea what to expect going into my first day. I was very nervous –but once I started, everyone was very friendly.
I work the front desk at the Men’s shelter, helping our guests to find the resources they need. Sometimes, it’s as simple as being someone they can talk to. You actually get to know the guests and each day becomes something to look forward to.
There are challenges though. It always comes with surprises. But I’m thankful to experience how the staff handles difficult situations, always respectful, and careful to protect our guests’ privacy. It opens your eyes to the community that you’re a part of.
You hear conversations and you glimpse incredible moments in people’s lives. I can only imagine what it must be like for them, these men when they leave the shelter, smiling and waving goodbye. One really cool aspect of this work is to be there happy to help as someone moves on with their lives.
My advice, just try it. It’s been a great experience and I’m really glad that I did it. Everyone I work with has a really big heart, and I’ve definitely gained some new perspective.
Learn more about volunteering with St. Vincent de Paul Dayton here.