“To serve and to be served. We are one community. Service is what makes life worth living.” This statement resonated with me through my interactions and relationships I built during my eight weeks as a St. Anthony’s volunteer. I was able to experience and learn a lot of new things, but one of the theological themes that stood out to me the most was the power of community.
I realized in a divided and wounded world, for those who are struggling with poverty, injustice, and/or homelessness, the call to kinship is important, if not essential. Just as through God’s mercy, we were saved as sinners through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we should show mercy to those who need support. The drive to help others and connect the Tenderloin community and the resources given allowed me to see the importance in community.
I was able to observe different levels of poverty and injustice by listening to guests’ stories and seeing interactions on the streets of the Tenderloin community. I believe that we should address poverty and injustice by creating a kinship among the community that helps one another. As a community, “we are called to change things—to change the movement of history, to make our world a place of love and not just a place of conflict and competition” (Vanie, “The Vision of Jesus: Living Peaceably in a Wounded World” 63). Jesus put us together to have fellowship by seeking relationships with others. By working together as a community, we can create an environment where individuals can “collectively identify and address harms, needs, obligations in order to heal and put things as right as possible” (Zerr “Restorative Principles” 37).
Before I had a limited view and experience of social injustice, but through this experience I realized how limited my insight was, and I hope to learn even more in the future. I have grown in my understanding of social injustice, especially in the Tenderloin area through my personal contact and interactions with people of the community and the guests of the Tech Lab. With this in my heart, I hope to share my experiences with others and bring awareness to social injustice, poverty, and homelessness in that there are still areas in the United States where people need help.
Ashley Choi completed her 8-week summer service learning internship with the Tenderloin Technology Lab in July 2016. An undergraduate at Notre Dame University, Indiana, Ashley volunteered full-time as a tutor and teaching assistant, helping more than 100 low income and homeless adults daily make progress towards their tech and digital goals, whether learning about computers for the very first time or accessing new software or apps on their smartphones. Thank you, Ashley, for making a difference in the lives of those we serve!