Today, Annie and I drove to the VOA (Volunteers of America) in Camden along with three students from Niagra University. VOA is comprised of a few buildings. One building acts as a drop by area for families to do laundry, receive meals and have a warm place to spend time. Another building features many small rooms which homeless single moms can stay in for months at a time to have shelter.
When we first arrived at the site, they told us they weren’t expecting us and that they didn’t know what they had for us to do. We immediately offered to clean or shovel or do anything to help them out. They laughed and said that they could call over some families with children and that we could spend time with the kids in one of the playrooms.
About eight kids were dropped off by different families and spent time with us in the small room stuffed with games, books and stuffed animals. The youngest of the children were 16 month old twin girls with the oldest child being 6. The children were lively and engaged with us the entire time we were there. We mostly played board games and read books with the kids, which turned out to be very rewarding because the kids learned things that they hadn’t known beforehand like how to play a new game or how to spell a new word. I was happy to provide one on one interaction with these children that probably don’t get much attention and nurturing because of their stressful lifestyles of having so little. It was also great to have the moms thank us for spending time with their kids because they had needed the time to get things done like laundry.
-Sarah Swienckowski- Eckhart