Our inaugural Bluenote Blog for the 2015-2016 school year is written by Haley Dick ’16, one of The Gateway co-editors. Here she reflects on how an unexpected change of plans transformed her.
by Haley Dick, NDP Senior
Being a sophomore at NDP, and not really knowing much about the different service camps that NDP had to offer during the summer, I decided to go out on a limb and apply to be a counselor at the Sister’s Academy Camp for the summer of 2014. As unsure as I was about it, that week was easily one of the best weeks of my summer because I had the opportunity to connect with my camper, a sixth grader named Lamontia, who was very unique, bold, and inspiring. When the week of fun and games came to an end, we exchanged numbers and headed our separate ways, hoping to be reunited the following summer of 2015.
I reapplied to be a counselor again this summer, only to find out that the camp would not be offered. I, along with all of the other counselors, was devastated to hear that I would not be reunited with my old friend, or have the opportunity to make a few new ones. However, the week was not lost: Mr. Steve Pomplon, NDP’s wonderful service director, found another opportunity to give back to our community, one that provided the complete meaning of what it means to serve others.
The first day, we loaded the Service Bus in old tennis shoes and workclothes, and headed to First Fruits Farm, where we were introduced to wonderful, devoted, followers of God, who literally dedicated their lives to serving others by voluntarily growing and harvesting crops and distributing them to local soup kitchens and shelters. In the fields, we picked more than eight tons of zucchini, coming out with a few scrapes and the full meaning of what it means to be selfless for others in the name of God. The farmers told us that whenever we got pricked by a thorn, remember that everything we were doing was in the name of God, and was for the good of others, which I found to be incredible. If the farmers could dedicate 16 years of their lives to labor intensive service, I could certainly spare two days.
However, the third day was really what got to me. It started out with a trip to Viva House, located in Southwest Baltimore, where we made 400-plus sandwiches to be served to the homeless later that day. We all had a different job (mine was the pepper), which made the process go so much faster than expected. After we made the sandwiches, we loaded back onto the bus, and took a driving tour of Baltimore to get to our final destination, Healthcare for the Homeless.
Walking into the building, I was amazed by what I saw: there was a desk where the patients could sign in and then proceed to the waiting room to wait for their turn. Our tour was led by Patrick Diamond, who informed us that the reason they accepted both walk-ins and appointments was because on the streets, it was hard to keep track of the days, a concept which had never before occurred to me. We took a tour of all the floors, each one more impressive than the next. They offered everything from therapists, to dentists, to doctors, to nurses, to many different specialists, and even pharmacy uses, all in one, convenient place, at no cost. I had no idea that right here in Baltimore City there was an organization dedicated to the wellness of the impoverished and a safe place free of judgement or discrimination.
On the bus ride home from Baltimore, I began thinking that the world was taking way too many steps backwards in the face of poverty than it ever could in the right direction. But after visiting First Fruit Farms, Viva House, and Healthcare for the Homeless, I realized that selfless, courageous people, who dedicate their lives to aiding the poor and who serve “under the radar” are out there. It is comforting to know that such people and places exist , and that anyone in the community could take part in their mission. What started as a disappointing week turned into an eye-opening experience from the second I saw the farm fields; my summer continues to inspire me in my service today, and will throughout my senior year.