It's late Sunday afternoon in downtown Raleigh, NC, in a low concrete building next to the railroad tracks. We are working in a small room where the 40 residents will eat supper in about an hour, when a church group serves the only full meal of the day for many of the residents. We have folded the tables and pushed them against the wall. Most of the residents are watching television in the only other common room in the building or lying on their bunks in the men's or women's dorm, each a single large room. A few are in the long, dark hall where smoking is allowed or in the tiny laundry room. There is no place else to go,'· except the crowded staff office and entry area, where every person gets frisked with a magnetic detector. Some haven't arrived yet. The residents are not allowed to leave after checking in for the night.
"I have my health and strength today," says David, a tall Raleigh native, who came to the homeless shelter via the military and a stay in Atlanta. "I thank the Lord for that." We continue going around the circle, each of us saying something that we are grateful for about this day. Jenny, a high school junior, explains that she learned this afternoon that she was accepted into a prestigious school club. "I feel proud," she says.
We go around the circle again, each of us seven boiling our stories down to one or two words, and then around once more adding a gesture or shape to the phrase. David combines "health and strength" with holding both hands high in the shape of a giant "V." Jenny stands tall and erect, her arms crossed in front with confidence and says, "proud."
Finger, William, "Service-Learning in the Community - Are We Ready for the Journey?" (1998). Partnerships/Community. 9.