Volunteer Experience: SEND Camden
Liam Young, Staff Writer
SEND Camden 2019
It is one thing to sit in a sociology or economics class and her about problems like unemployment, unequal wealth distribution, and crime, but it is something completely different to see it firsthand. For those who have gone on a SEND trip before, your eyes are opened to things you could never see in a classroom. Camden New Jersey was once a very prosperous industrial city up until the 1950s when manufacturers began closing their doors. By the 1970s the city was plagued by crime, poverty, and civil unrest and has yet to recover. The nine of us who went stayed at the Romero Center, a Catholic education center focused on personal, communal, and societal transformation through the teachings of St. Oscar Romero. A lot of this is done by community service and one of the biggest things the Romero Center preaches is ministry of presence. While many times it is good to volunteer your labor; preparing meals, tutoring in classrooms, and running toy drives, sometimes people just want someone to talk to. This is the most rewarding type of service. If you hold back and are shy, you will not get anything from this type of service, and you will not be serving properly. However, if you let you loosen yourself up, you can really get to know someone. Everyone has a story, and with the people of Camden, they were always extremely insightful, and served as a constant reminder that these people have lives too, and they are suffering in our own backyard. Some of these people fell into disadvantaged lifestyles and some were born into them, but they are among some of the finest people I have ever met, and it was a pleasure being able to help them out.