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Day 2: Starting Serving

“There are more bridges in Pittsburgh then there are in Venice, Italy.”

“Really?”

“It’s true.”

In total there are 446 bridges in the city of Pittsburgh. It’s officially the city with the most bridges in the world. It has three more than Venice, Italy. This fact came as a surprise to everyone from St. Paul when Dr. Holly Hoffman, a chaperon and mentor for the St. Paul youth told us this on the bus ride to the first service project.

The day began with exhaustion from the night before. The boys had slept downstairs and girls upstairs, all sharing 1 fully functional bathroom. Let’s just say that sharing that bathroom taught all of the groups that patience really is a virtue.

We woke up for breakfast and then headed off to a local Pittsburgh homeless shelter. We were there for between two and a half to three hours. We picked up trash and folded clothes and then separated the clothes into bins based on their cleanliness and usefulness. We learned that some donations were to get rid of unusable clothes. But the majority of people made greatly appreciated donations. A lot of the St. Paul youth didn’t know how to fold clothes, so Moses taught everyone how to do this the right way. He is a chaperone and youth leader who also works at Kohl’s so we received professional advice. This means parents, now your children can do their own laundry at home!!

After working at the homeless shelter, the shelter workers gave us a surprise gift of candy for the road. We thanked them for allowing us to help and for the extremely generous and unexpected gesture.

Then we drove off with our trusted driver Moses to the next location which ended up being a nursing home. It proved difficult to find, but after a couple of wide turns and bumps we made it to “our featured destination” as the GPS put it.

At the home, we were welcomed by a chaplain which is different from a Pastor in a variety of ways. He told us that he needed to know major religions and how to deal with people of differing or no religious affiliation. His main job was to make people comfortable and to give them any assistance and religious help they need.

We waited for a few minutes at the home and then people started piling into the main room used for games and study. A particular lady named Nancy came out on a wheelchair and her legs were damaged and disabled. She told us her life story, and she was more hilarious then most modern comedians on television. Her husband died too young and she used to be a school teacher. She told everyone that she wasn’t expecting to end up in a home and no one there really was. But she loved the people at the home. And she said so honestly that “God is important. And to trust what he tells you even if it makes you feel strange because it will take you farther than you ever thought you could ever go.”

After getting to know Nancy all the groups split up and two to three people would find another person to talk to. I ended up speaking to a 97 year old woman with dementia who proved to be really friendly. She didn’t really know where she was but I took her around the building and she appreciated me being there. She thanked me in the end and called me a friend. I consider her one too.

The last stop in Pittsburgh for service was to a woman’s shelter. There we weeded and mulched the garden.

The main thing we all learned from the three service projects was that there are so many ways to help people, and to do so is easy when you find something you enjoy doing. My personal favorite was the nursing home visit.

Dinner was scrumptious Indonesian noodles for me and a few others, but half of our group headed back to Quaker. I went with Moses after we got back from service to pick up ice cream from Dave’s and Andy’s (#5 best in the world) vanilla bean ice cream and root beer for a surprise as others took showers. That night all the groups had root beer floats and a dance party mixed with American, African, and Japanese music.

After the party everyone went to bed and fell into a deep sleep. Ohio is where we are heading the next day.

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