Saturday, March 7, 2009

I wish I could do more

Tonight I met up with Dani at Sylvia's Place to cook dinner. Okay, so I just dumped pasta in a pot and drained it - she's the one with the skills. A few things stood out about this particular experience that has me thinking...

1 - Breakfast Brawl
There was a girl there who stays at another shelter (which looks bigger or at least better organized that Sylvia's Place) and asked if she could take something back there for breakfast because they "have nothing". She said that they put in orders through the church that runs it, but they never get anything - I'm guessing they get very little from the food bank or else she wouldn't be see, I'd put her at about 350 lbs, which makes her too big to jump a turnstyle, so she probably walked the nearly 4 miles between the two shelters for dinner - not comfortable even at half her size (sadly, I know that first-hand). Anyway, because of her size, I gave her the 3 boxes of Carnation Instant Breakfast I snagged for free at CVS last weekend rather than the Corn Pops. I can't imagine anyone would choose to chug 30 envelopes of powder! One of the boys tried to argue that she was only supposed to get one box, which was my initial offer before she described the extent of the problem, and I got pulled in as mediator on my way out. I mean...Carnation, for chrissakes. It's not like it was Frosted Flakes or, I don't know, GOLD BARS!!!

2 - The toiletry cupboard ain't bare
Dani got to put away the bathroom items she'd brought as donation, whereas I'd always been told to leave them on the desk. She said she could see I'd been there earlier, because we both work the same drug store deals and she knows all about the Colgate Total Whitening and Suave body wash, heh. Anyway, I have a massive load of girlie supplies, and Sylvia's doesn't have that many girl guests...and the other shelter does. Well, I'm moving in about 3 weeks and I want this stuff out of my closets by then. Seriously, I have at least 20 packs of liners, pads and 'pons.

3 - Poor feedback
I don't need heaps of thanks, but I would like to know when I've supplied more than enough, or donated something unneeded. While I get lots of feedback from the kids, I would absolutely love to have someone say "if you can get a good deal on XYZ, we have three kids who could really use that sort of thing" or "we've got enough shampoo to last us for 2 months, so no need to go out of your way for that at the moment".

4 - No admin
I actually think this is a good thing. We had a chat with one of the long-term volunteers we occasionally run into, and he told us how there is almost no record-keeping or separation of church and shelter. While I think there needs to be a few things in place that aren't, I also think it's great that they're not wasting resources on things that don't have any effect on the front lines.

I fully intend to continue my support of Sylvia's Place, but I think a little co-ordination with Dani might be in order...when we've got stacks of the same things, perhaps I should take some of my haul to another, equally destitute shelter.


Dani said...

Well, it didn't appear that they had scads and scads of anything really. Except toothpaste and toothbrushes. Which I wish I had known because I've been bringing tons of that sort of thing.

It appeared that they had lots of hotel sized travel items, but the only shampoo/body wash/deodorant that I saw in the cabinet was the stuff that I noticed from you and the stuff that I was putting away.

I handed over two packs of pads/tampons. And I saw a large ziploc bag filled with a random assortment of tampons.

Katie said...

That's all you saw? Interesting. I'd brought 4-6 packs of pads in my previous visit. Good to know they were needed! Because, I kid you not, I have no less than 25 packages of fem products. If I'm feeling energetic, I'll haul some supplies down tonight. And maybe again on Wednesday, when the "good" manager is working.