When most people I know say that they have been to Detroit, they are referring to going to a Tiger’s game, or to a concert at Ford Field, or to a casino. However, these areas are not all of Detroit, and these things are not all there is to do in Detroit. As a part of our LAS Protocol for the 2015-16 academic year, each member of my cohort has the opportunity to travel to Detroit, Michigan for a service trip called LAS in the D. I have so much excitement in anticipation of this trip, and it is because of two main reasons. For one, every single person that I have spoken with thus far about LAS in the D has told me nothing but positive things. I have heard that “this trip was the best part of Freshman year at CMU by far” and that “it was a great way to get closer with the cohort while giving back to others.” So far I have been told that over this two-day trip, we will be volunteering with students from the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy doing community service projects for the first day, and doing other types of service with the cohort as a whole on the second day. And while all of this hype adds to my already sky-high excitement, the main reason that I am looking forward to this trip so much is that I have done something similar before.
In my senior year at St. Patrick High School, my class had taken a retreat day in Detroit. On this day, I had the opportunity to volunteer with the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, which is a religious community of friars inspired by St. Francis of Assisi that tends to people’s basic needs, especially the need for food. This experience was not only eye-opening for me, but life changing as well. At the soup kitchen, my day was divided into two halves. For the first half of the day, I was working with other volunteers and serving food to everyone who had come to the kitchen. The second half of my day was the part that had the largest impact on me though. When my shift serving food was done, I was told that I was needed to go and clear tables, and if I had any down-time, I could go and socialize. So when all the tables were cleared and the lunch rush was close to done, I sat down at a table with two men. One of the men seemed rather tired, and kept dozing on and off. The other man, however, was very talkative. He began by asking where I was from. When I told him I was from Ionia County, his face lit up and he started to laugh and replied with, “Me too!” I asked what city he grew up in, and he laughed even harder. He then went on to explain to me that what he meant was that he and the man sitting next to him had gone to prison in Ionia County, not that they had grown up there. I went on to have a nearly hour-long conversation with the man, and it had an amazing impact on me personally.
This day and this conversation gave me a whole new perspective, and from then on, I knew that I wanted to go back. This is why I cannot wait to be a part of LAS in the D. I am so excited to have the opportunity for another service trip, and the fact that I will be able to share this experience with some of my closest friends from CMU makes me look forward to it even more. I hope that through the service we do on this trip, we will not only have an impact on the people whom we meet, but that those people will have an impact on us as well.