In mid-November, DePaul law students and the Pro Bono Community Service Initiative (PBCSI) joined nearly 1,000 other regional volunteers to serve approximately 600 of Chicago’s homeless at the St. Vincent de Paul Center’s Homeless Outreach Luncheon in Lincoln Park. The service day was one of PBCSI’s monthly Donate-A-Day community service projects for law students. College of Law Chaplain Tom Judge and other DePaul Loop Campus students also participated.
Volunteers were busy with a range of duties, some working worked at various stations to distribute items such as winter clothing, shoes and backpacks to the guests. Some of the stations also provided free dental, legal, podiatry and manicure services. Other volunteers accompanied the guests to each station, held their chosen items, and ate Thanksgiving lunch with them.
Desalina Williams, one of PBCSI’s student coordinators and a volunteer at the Homeless Outreach Luncheon, shared her thoughts about the volunteer day:
"The luncheon was a very unique experience that I greatly enjoyed. I accompanied a veteran who waited outside, in line, for two hours before entering the center. When I met him, he immediately talked about retrieving a coat and a backpack. Before reaching these stations, we collected toiletries, eye glasses, scarves, gloves, hats, sleeping bags and blankets at other stations. As each item dropped into the bag, he became happier and happier. However, once we got to the coat his eyes just lit up. Unfortunately, the center ran out of backpacks before we reached the backpack station. Instead of expressing disappointment or anger, he told me that ‘the day was a successful day.’ He was so happy about the coat and the other items that leaving without a backpack did not ruin his mood (even though he'd come for a backpack). He insisted that he received more than he ever thought he would receive. After receiving more compliments on his coat, he left the center with a smile.
As I finished the day, the main thought that ran through my mind was his smile when he wore his coat for the first time. Thinking about that moment made me smile to myself because he was right: the day was a successful day."
For more information about PBCSI or its monthly Donate-A-Day service projects, please contact PBCSI Director, Cheryl Price at email@example.com.