On the Alternative Break to Seattle, I met and worked with people that I had previously been taught to avoid by my parents. Interacting with and assisting people experiencing homelessness in Seattle was, at first, going against every instinct that my parents had taught me. However, after the first day or two serving the people there and learning about the issue of homelessness, those instincts began to fade. I realized that everyone that you see on the street corner, asking for money in the street, camping under the bridge, and in many other places, are all people, too. Everyone is in a distinctly different and unique situation, and they all have tales to share about how they got into their current position. I met people who are recovering from addiction, people whose rent unfortunately went up without their knowledge, and people who have been chronically experiencing homelessness for years.
The most impactful and memorable moment of my time spent in Seattle was most definitely volunteering with the Search and Rescue initiative at the Union Gospel Mission. The Search and Rescue initiative is a fascinating and extremely helpful organization to individuals experiencing homelessness. It is centered around providing consistent food and basic essentials to the homeless population of Seattle, both downtown and in the suburbs. For around four hours on a Thursday night, we drove around the city to several established sites and delivered blankets, sandwiches, snacks, clothes, shoes, hot chocolate, and other assorted essentials to the populations in the area experiencing homelessness. This experience was both fascinating and life-changing for me. Not only did it further my recognition of people experiencing homelessness as individuals with a story, but it also pulled me out of my comfort zone and gave me the opportunity to interact with them one on one.
This one-on-one interaction was without a doubt my most memorable experience on the Seattle Alt Break. I loved connecting with all the different personalities and different types of people who live in Seattle, and the Alternative Break overall was an experience that I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life. It has not only made me more advocative for people experiencing homelessness, but it has made me treat all people differently and has helped me recognize their struggles and individual worth. I would highly recommend participating on an Alternative Break to anyone on the edge of going—it is a once in a lifetime experience.