Eric Tilson ’15

Safe Harbor Volunteer


When I walked into Safe Harbor, I didn’t fully understand my purpose for being there.  We are a few college students hanging out for a couple hours with people who likely have so much on their plate that they can’t even give us their undivided attention.  I was thinking, “I don’t know anything about what they go through, so what can I do to help?  Am I not just distracting them from the real issues at hand in their lives?”  I realized immediately from the excitement of the Safe Harbor residents as I arrived on my first day that something Lafayette College students do here works.  I am not just a distraction, but rather a friend (possibly one of few for some residents) who does not have any possible anterior motives for being there to help them.  One resident asked on my first day whether I was there for a class and was taken aback when I said I was there because I wanted to be.  I realized that often people need to be treated normally and talked to normally sometimes in order to feel motivated and inspired.  The time spent talking with the residents has even opened my eyes to who the homeless community really is on a personal level, which I would never get the chance to truly understand without the Safe Harbor program.  The unique relationship fostered between the students and the residents is mutually beneficial in ways I never would have imagined before putting serious effort into it.