CC students reflect on volunteering with the homeless

Melvonia Taylor, Co-Editor

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Two Columbia College students have been volunteering at Transitions Homeless Recovery Center during the 2016 fall semester.

“I’ve always had the urge to give back,” said Jasmine Smith, sophomore political science major and biology minor. “I was interested in seeing the environment and what they go through.”

Transitions is a homeless shelter that focuses on transitioning its residents back into permanent housing, according to Transitions’ website.

“I enjoy volunteering at Transitions because I get to see the homeless up close and personal, and I feel it is my duty to help them,” Jasmine Carter, first-year communication studies major, said.

“Various strategies and types of housing are used to help stabilize individuals living on the street and enroll them in services designed to stabilize their lives, increase their income and help them secure permanent housing,” according to Transitions’ website.

I’ve noticed most of the residents have jobs, but they don’t have enough money to be financially stable, according to Carter.

Transitions has a total of 260 beds for adults over the age of 18. These beds include 68 emergency beds, 14 convalescent beds, 114 program beds and 64 extended program beds, according to Transitions’ website.

“Transitions is an eye-opener and I feel it is something everyone should experience,” Smith said. “The experience has made me more humble.”

“Lack of affordable housing, low wages, domestic violence, physical and mental health issues and substance abuse are some of the main reasons people become homeless. In Columbia, a full-time worker needs to earn $14.29 per hour or work 79 hours per week at minimum wage to afford a two-bedroom apartment at the fair market rent,” according to Family Shelter’s website.

“The residents are supposed to be at Transitions for a reason and something good is going to come out of it,” Carter said.

Transitions has a day center that seeks “to engage chronically homeless people in services and recruit them into on-site housing programs, so they can begin the process of recovery,” according to Transitions’ website. They also have a goal of providing “a safe and appropriate daytime alternative to the streets for those in need.”

Smith and Carter like being hands-on, so they found Transitions to be the perfect place to volunteer. They were able to serve food to the residents and engage in conversations with some of them.

Transitions serves three meals a day with the goal of providing “nutritious meals to those who are participating in the center’s programs,” according to Transitions’ website.
There is a common misconception that homeless people are lazy. “Just because someone is homeless, doesn’t mean they’re lazy,” Smith said. “The person may not be able to afford to put food on the table and pay the mortgage.”

“Volunteering at Transitions made me realize how fortunate I am,” Carter said. “I would recommend it to anyone.”

For volunteer information, click here.  

“Do for others what they can’t do for themselves,” Carter said.

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