This spotlight is on one of the most amazing places I’ve volunteered: Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission.
I’ve been wanting to write a short post about the Union Gospel Mission for a while now because it has made such a big impact on the way I view Seattle and all the residents living here in this beautiful city. It has also exposed many people to a different way of thinking about others; UGM helps to fade prejudices and replace them with empathy.
It’s been difficult writing this blurb only because I want to represent the Union Gospel Mission and the experience of volunteering passionately and clearly. Until my first time volunteering, I had never interacted with homeless citizens for an extended period of time and I regret not doing it sooner. I first volunteered there over two years ago through a flash volunteer website called One Brick (super easy way to volunteer!) and started coming back ever since. I usually serve dinner at the Men’s Shelter in Pioneer Square but want to start volunteering at the Women’s Shelter and signing up for Search and Rescue opportunities.
When volunteering in the UGM Men’s Shelter kitchen, you work alongside some of the most amazing and friendly men and women I’ve ever met. Most are going through the UGM recovery and ministry programs or have been through them in the past. The chefs and kitchen staff are always helpful in walking the volunteers through the process of the dinner rush. You usually work a two hour shift first serving dinner to the men living and going through the programs and then serving the homeless people that line up on the street outside. Anyone can volunteer with the UGM and what is great about it is that they offer a variety of different opportunities to cater to anyone’s skills and schedules – from volunteer tutoring during the day to serving dinner at a shelter at night. The bottom line is it doesn’t matter where you volunteer, as long as you’re getting out there in your city and connecting with others!
What I love about volunteering with the UGM is that it gives me a chance to be a part of something bigger than myself and realize that Seattle is full of inspiring, unique, beautiful humans from all walks of life. I feel humbled and deeply connected to the people of this city every time I help to serve dinner. The feeling that I can’t convey though my writing is the warmth and love I leave with every time I get done with my volunteer shift. The connections that I make with not only the staff but with the men and women going through the dinner line is real and powerful. It is easy to see that we are all humans and we all have the same feelings. Everyone craves to be loved and accepted; to be respected and looked at as an individual trying to find their place in this world as opposed to a stereotype or group statistic.
We all need exposure to people and groups we may see as completely different from ourselves. Only then does empathy and compassion form for other humans because we stop separating, categorizing, and putting up walls between “us and them”. If you haven’t had this realization yet, then I urge you to get out into the world and volunteer in your city, around the country, or across the world. Start getting to know your neighbor, the homeless vet holding a sign on the highway, or a child laying in bed sick in the hospital. Expand your circle, expand your heart, and learn to starting loving everyone!
Thank you to UGM for continuing to help the people of Seattle not only with basic needs and rights but for providing the tools to succeed for the people who seek your guidance and love (including me). You keep helping to expand our circles to include everyone no matter what their background is. I love you, I love you, I love you!