[The story of the service project! Cross-posted from Multifaith Alliance. Keep reading to hear my thoughts!]

It’s the first morning after our incredible service project last night, and I can still feel the happiness and gratitude we all felt after such a fun, fulfilling opportunity. Emma Norton’s is an amazing place! Thanks to Emma Norton’s lovely ladies (Lucille, Carol, and Cynthia), we found out a lot of really cool stuff!

It turns out that the real Emma Norton first opened a “Girl’s Club”, a boarding home for young women new to the Twin Cities, in the 1910s and 1920s. Emma Norton’s has continued the tradition of providing housing and assistance for women ever since, including deaf students and hospital outpatients. Today, Emma Norton’s is a home for women battling addiction and mental health issues, many of whom come from homelessness and domestic violence.

The facility provides cozy bedrooms, a kitchen and dining area, several living rooms and lounges, and a nifty little patio. But inside, they provide way more than that. AA meetings and mental health sessions, job trainings and skills development, group events and fun activities – the list goes on and on. Emma Norton’s provides up to fifty women with the long-term stability, care, and resources to get them back on their feet and taking care of themselves.

To help out with this mission, nine of us split up into groups and tackled separate projects. One group scrubbed and disinfected rooms while sharing stories with Emma Norton’s amazing staff. The other group went down into the kitchens and sorted, categorized, and organized two huge, packed freezers! Both of these jobs gave each of us a new insight into the world of Emma Norton’s, and gave us a sharp, powerful look into the daily operations of caring for the underprivileged. Between laughter and sadness, between hard work and a loving community, Multifaith was able to enjoy one of the most powerful two hours we’ve ever had together. I can only reflect with gratitude and pride on the experience we were able to share!

[At this point I’d just like to share my thoughts on the experience, and share with you some of the excitement and passion I feel. Read on… ]

I can’t stop how strongly I want to dedicate my life to this. I can’t stop remembering our experiences last night and dreaming about our opportunities in the future.

I want to volunteer at Emma Norton’s every damn day of the week. I can’t quit thinking about them, soldiering through meal after meal, giving everything they’ve got to provide resources for these women. I want to start organizing funding now to get my communities involved in a big way.

On the one hand, I see organizations like Emma Norton’s struggling to provide, constantly turning away applicants. On the other hand, I see the privileges that I myself can achieve – academics, scholarships like Mahle, research opportunities, involvements with Multifaith and the Oracle, internships at SPIN, SPACC, or IFYC. I can see all of them stretched out in front of me, and I can’t stop myself from planning how I can take advantage of them and give back to what is inspiring me the most.

I definitely want to do another service project again. When I get back from Ireland in the fall, there are opportunities in the pipeline that I intend to explore. Each of these may present leverage to increase my community’s dedication to interfaith activism and service in our world.

Stick with me, everyone. Let’s all make it happen – I don’t want to do anything else!


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