So today we went to the Inglis House, which is a non-traditional nursing home as Sarah the activities coordinator explained it. The residents have various, crippling diseases that make them live their lives in wheelchairs. The house provides dorm-style rooms for them, equipped with TVs, desks, beds, and walls decorated with cards and photos from their families. The average age range of a resident at the Inglis House is 45-55. Volunteers are taken to the TR (therapy recreation) room to play scrabble, watch movies, paint, or play shuffleboard with the residents. It was an experience I have never witnessed before with people I’ve never encountered before, but I enjoyed it greatly.
The most intriguing part of our first day for me, however, was when we came back from our work sites and watched an old 20/20 video from about 2005. The first part showed children and teenagers walking around Moorestown, New Jersey, where I went to high school and where I still spend afternoons walking around Main Street. I got excited when they showed one of my favorite pizza places and the street right in front of my school. Then, suddenly, they cut to children and teenagers walking around the streets of Camden, New Jersey, only 10 minutes away. In 2004 Moorestown was voted the best place to live in America and Camden was voted the most dangerous place to live. What a shock to see kids dodging drug corners and needles in the bushes with graffiti covering the walls while I was happily attending my sophomore year in high school. The rest of the episode discussed the contrast between children in Camden and in Moorestown. They interviewed kids and teens who both had the same goals and hopes in life, but the Camden children have to work 10 times harder to achieve these things due to their surroundings. They have to overcome the influences of drugs, alcohol, starvation, homelessness, and so much more. After the episode was over, Pastor John asked us to talk about our initial reactions. I told him I was from the Moorestown area and he asked me if I felt guilty after seeing the show, explaining that wasn’t the point. I said no, but that I felt weird and sad and a little uncomfortable with the fact that so close to my home and my friends and my family are people struggling to support themselves on a day-to-day basis. I realized how much I take for granted every day and am so thankful for all that I have. I talked with my mom for a while tonight about why Camden is now so poverty-stricken and how we can help or how they can help themselves, but we didn’t come to any realistic conclusions.