My first experiences at the shelter were a couple of years ago, cooking and serving lunch. I was happy to use these skills I’d picked up from communal living to care for my fellow community members. But my perspective on the shelter transformed once I began volunteering again this January. I was able to attend an orientation with Lacee, the (wonderful) Volunteer Program Manager. I learned about the history and operation of the shelter and trauma-informed care, extending as much evidence-based compassion to those who need it most. Whether organizing the warehouse, cleaning, or working the front desk, I have a newfound appreciation for the work done at the shelter.
To me, the Lawrence Community Shelter is a testament to a philosophy that I hold very dearly: people contain multitudes. I’ve been fortunate to have conversations with many souls at the shelter: staff, guests, and fellow volunteers. I’ve seen how earnest and gritty staff are, dedicated to their mission. When I asked about a project’s status, a staff member told me, “Oh, we’ll make it happen, and we won’t stop until it’s done. That’s how we work around here!” And I’ve spoken to guests, who are surprising, funny, kind, and above all, human beings, sometimes experiencing crisis or just taking the world a day at a time.
Working at the LCS is also important to me as someone who is dedicated to mitigating the impacts of climate change. Unfortunately, people who experience homelessness are also the most vulnerable to climate change induced crises, as society will likely meet a destabilized economy, increased risk of damaged property due to intensified natural disasters, and health-threatening temperatures that make it unsafe to live or work outdoors.
Having a resilient network of services and resources, such as the LCS and their partners, is critical to ensuring the resiliency of our community in the years and decades to come.
All I can say is, I look forward to every shift I have at the shelter, and I’m sad to be graduating and leaving them. I am sincerely grateful that I’ve gotten to be part of their community.
Apolonia Arteaga, LCS Volunteer
4th Year Undergraduate Student
BA in Environmental Studies
BS in Biology: Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology
KU Honors Program