On Saturday, November 4th, 2017 a volunteer group coordinated by Project Peace East Bay came to give our North County Women’s Center a much needed deep clean. We are so grateful for organizations like Project Peace and for the many volunteers who give their time and energy to help those less fortunate members of their community.
Volunteer Barbara L. Lanier, President, Soroptimist International of El Cerrito had this to say:
“On behalf of Soroptimist International of El Cerrito, thank you so much for letting members of our club participate in your Day of Service at the North Country Women’s Shelter in Berkeley. I, for one, would be pleased to return and help out with this cleaning project on an additional occasion.
As your designated “Storyteller”, I took a number of photos that can tell the picture better than I can do. As I wandered from floor to floor among the volunteers, I discovered that two came to the Day of Service by way of Christ Church in Berkeley, where project:peace was born. These two had volunteered cleaning the shelter previously and felt it was a Saturday well spent. They told me as Storyteller about the pastors at Christ Church who began project:peace and explained the process whereby the organization connects volunteers with organizations that need community help. Next I spoke with two volunteers who had gone directly to project:peace to find a place to volunteer. They felt that what they were doing was important to the community where they lived and anticipated volunteering again for this work.
The two larger groups of volunteers today consisted of six people from the First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley as part of the church’s “Do Justice” program, and five people from Soroptimist International of El Cerrito, a service club whose mission is helping to improve the lives of women and girls, locally and globally. One volunteer overlapped as a member of both of these groups. I think it was most interesting to discover the differing perspectives from which each entered this Day of Service. Whether serving a religious command (as explained to me by one member of the Presbyterian volunteers) or a more secular desire to be of service (expressed by a Soroptimist member), all wanted to do something to help someone who was struggling to make a better life for herself and her children. Each volunteer felt today presented that opportunity.
Personally, my favorite moment came when I visited with two young boys on the third floor. Ashanti and Liam were both still in pajamas as they told me all about Halloween. They were linked with arms around each other, talking about the superheros who make up such a big part of their 6-year-old lives. Each was kind and loving to the other, and to the less-than-2-year-old boy who kept clamoring for their attention.
Speaking for myself, the Soroptimist members present, and I believe for the entire crew of volunteers, the experience today at the women’s shelter was heart warming and fulfilling. What is being done in the community for these women who find themselves without a home, for whatever reason, is vital. The help they receive from Berkeley Food and Housing Project is not only important to their own well being, but imperative to the children they are raising. I was not aware that my community had the transitional housing program that I found at this shelter. I am pleased I was able to help these women and children on their journey in this small way and would like to volunteer at this shelter again.”