Amaura

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Michelin, my supervisor at the food pantry, has taken to calling me “Amaura.” This is the result of misunderstanding me the first time I introduced myself, or rather making the assumption that my parents gave me a name similar to the word for love in the romance languages. I choose not to correct her because I like associating myself with amour, amor, and especially amore. I suppose I am a romantic despite myself.

Working at the food pantry has been fantastic. I check people in as they come in to get their food, and hand out any necessary paperwork. Then I call back the requested number of bags to be put into carts and rolled out to the waiting clients. I enjoy the bustle of the food pantry, and I like working directly with people, particularly my supervisors Michelin and Lisa. On one of my first days at SCCAP, Lisa patiently walked me through the many aspects of the food pantry system. In fact, Lisa does most tasks with the utmost patience and kindness, helping clients through confusing application forms or complicated request sheets and fondly referring to half the people who pass through the food pantry as “trouble.” Michelin is equally as caring. Her compassionate nature comes through in her work, but she also maintains a toughness that everyone knows better than to mess with. Both of them inspire me, and it has been a pleasure to work under their guidance.

Last week I spent a few days at the Work Ready Program, also under the wide SCCAP umbrella. Helping out there has been fun mostly because I get to hang out with the very lovely Chelsea Broe, my friend and fellow intern. Dear friends aside, I’ve also encountered major frustration at Work Ready. July marked the start of a new fiscal year, a new government administration, and significant changes to the Work Ready Program. Under the new guidelines, the facility can no longer be used specifically to help people find jobs—the original intention for which it was created. Instead, the staff can help clients through exercises and workshops to improve job skills. This includes everything from familiarity with Microsoft Office products to writing a quality résumé. Needless to say, the clients at Work Ready are aggravated with the new system. This is partly due to the newness and lack of information about the recent changes, and the common expectation that the majority of the day will be dedicated to job searching. Chelsea and I (but mostly Chelsea) lead workshops on such topics as verbal communication and making priorities. I can feel the annoyance and impatience of the clients as we trudge through exercises about the art of making professional conversation in a workplace setting. I cannot blame them for feeling this way because I feel frustrated too. I wish I could be helpful and make an impact. In my current position, I feel rather useless.

Of course, I mean no offense to the Work Ready Program. I know that workshops have a place in the program, I just think that most clients will be primarily concerned about maintaining a reliable source of income than developing their conversational abilities. I know the professional staff are doing their best to make the program meaningful under the new regulations, and we are all frustrated with some of the changes that have been made. We must all make adjustments to work with what we cannot change.

In other news, all of us here at the Heston House survived the heat wave that passed through this weekend, as well as the rush of tourists who were here for the Reenactment. I didn’t take many photos this past week, but I do have this one from dinner the other night. It shows Mauricio’s true character because he is hiding from the camera and wearing his Kool-Aid t-shirt. I also like the light on Melanie’s face.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading.

-Maura

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