By William Minor
Hey everyone! So, an idea I’ve heard bouncing around the Urban Mitzvah Corps house the past week is how much UMC opened people’s eyes to different perspectives and other sides of society. This is an incredible part of an amazing experience I’m proud to be part of, but it’s easy to get lost in this style of thinking.
A moment that really made me stop and think, happened about a week and a half into the program. I was at Elijah’s Promise and had settled into the routine of working in the garden half the week and serving hot lunches in the kitchen the other half. We had been given some free time after work, and a group went out to get some food. On the way there, we passed a man sitting on the corner with a cardboard sign asking for help. We bought him some food, had a conversation and, as we were walking away, I had a record scratch moment. I had seen that man before. Not six hours earlier, the man we just saw begging on the sidewalk had been in the kitchen, telling me how he likes to share his free matzo with ducks.
A piece of the puzzle I hadn’t fully realized before slotted into place: we get to leave at the end of the day and go back to the Phi Sig house to relax and decompress from the stress. The people we’re helping can’t.
That’s the part of this experience I’d like to remind us of. That even though, yes, we’re helping people, we’re still in a bubble. A bubble of like-minded people, transport vans, and jobsites. And now we’re approaching the hardest part of UMC, leaving that bubble.
We dedicated a month to trying to help the people of New Brunswick, New Jersey, but now we are going back to our hometowns. That doesn’t mean we should stop and let this momentum grind to a halt. Get out into your community, see who’s trying to fix a problem in it, and help them. You aren’t obligated to finish the work, but why stop now?