Friday, September 16, 2011

Reasons Behind the Poverty

Katie Acosta
               My experience with MVC thus far has been eye-opening, challenging, and thrilling. Working and living in New York City is incredible; there is always something new and exciting to do and thankfully, a lot of it is completely free. There are so many opportunities to pursue your interests through free classes or meet-ups, no matter how varied or obscure your interests may be. We’ve been able to take advantage of a free orchestra concert in Central Park, donation-only yoga classes, and book readings, and we have just barely scratched the surface of all the things that we want to do and accomplish during our year here.
            Although I love all the free activities and events that New York City has to offer, my job at my service site has been my favorite part about my experience as a Mercy Volunteer so far. All of the staff at Mercy Center are overwhelmingly nice, helpful, and open to sharing their experience and knowledge of the South Bronx and Mott Haven neighborhood with me and my fellow volunteers. They have been so welcoming to us that it has not taken long for us to feel right at home here. It is the participants and their stories, however, which have had the greatest impact on me. Although challenging at times because of the language barrier that often exists (most of the participants speak Spanish and my Spanish abilities are limited), I have been able to have some wonderful interactions and conversations with some of our most devoted participants. Although I would never know from the happy smiles that most of our participants wear while at Mercy Center, I have come to learn a lot about the challenges and obstacles that our participants face every day, along with many other residents of the South Bronx. They are constantly surrounded by the poverty that exists in the neighborhood, and they lack the political and financial power to address many of the obstacles to development that exist in the South Bronx such as underfunded public schools, a lack of tenants’ rights, and an overall need for greater investment in the neighborhood.
            I have no doubt that during this year of service I will continue to learn more about the struggles that our participants endure, and many of the reasons behind the poverty that exists in the South Bronx, but I am ready for the challenge of working alongside our participants and absorbing all that I possibly can. My experience has been amazing and enlightening thus far, and I hope that I only continue to grow more and more as a person as the year progresses.

Katie Acosta - Mercy Center - New York, NY

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