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Reflection of the week…

Now that I have had a few days to think about the amazing and inspiring week that we had in Baltimore, I can’t help but miss being there with the group and the wonderful people that we met.  I got back home on Sunday and came home to my family and a clean house with multiple cars in the driveway and could not help to think about all the people we met that would love to live the way I do.  I am so grateful to have the family and support that I have especially from my parents after my week in Baltimore.  If it weren’t for them I could be in the same place as some of the people we met.  I will never forget Willie and some of the other men at Christopher’s Place who told us that we are all one bad decision away from being on the streets.  That is so true and I wish more people could have the same experiences that we were privileged to have during Spring Break. 

Now that I am back to life at CNU, I find myself paying attention more to the people around me.  I say Hello more often because I now understand that a smile can make a person’s day so much better.  I have noticed how much people complain about things that are so petty.  I have learned that I need to be more thankful for the things I have and I want to do more to help people around my community.  I now want to strive to be a person who is completely happy and satisfied with my life just the way it is because it could be way worse. 

I did not just learn things from the strangers that we met in Baltimore I also have learned things from the group that I went with as well.  I could not have asked to share this experience with better people.  I learned something about myself from each and every one of them and I feel truly blessed to have met all of them.  Last night at our final reflection we played a game where the two leaders of the group would call out questions/statements and two people at a time would go around and tap the people they believed represented this statement.  Since the people in the circle had their eyes closed we had no idea who was tapping us.  It was a great way to show our appreciation to the everyone in the group.  From this I learned a few things about myself from others eyes.  I was tapped for various different things like having a great smile to being a great listener and always being positive.  I loved this game!  It really showed each one of us that we were appreciated and the trip would not have been successful without each one of us.  I would personally like to thank each person who made this trip possible and one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

Anita – First off you are an amazing person!  I am so glad that I have been able to get to know you and hope to continue that friendship that we formed.  You made me feel so comfortable with the group by you just being yourself which in-turn helped me just be myself.  Thank you for putting together this trip it would not have been so successful without you!

Kelsey – Your positive attitude is so inspiring.  I wish I had a little bit more of that in me.  You are also one of the sweetest people I have ever met.  I thank you so much for helping to put together this trip it was amazing and as a senior I do not regret going to Baltimore for Spring Break instead of somewhere tropical at all.

Mar’Tina – You crack me up! So quiet yet you can be so funny when you least expect it.  I loved that about you.  No matter what was going on….crazy man at Our Daily Bread….you still were able to continue serving and try to ignore it at the best of your ability.  I am not sure that I could have been so calm in that situation and I hope that we can continue to hang out now that we are back home.

Linda – Your smile is beautiful, I guess that is a good thing since you want to be a dentist 😉  You were always willing to do whatever and just went with the flow of things I need to learn to be like that more often.  Your family is also so sweet and I could really see, from briefly meeting them, why you are the amazing person you are today.

Ebony – I loved the fact that I could have serious conversations with you and be able to talk about things without feeling judged.  I loved your determination to get things done whether that  be staying up late to get homework done on the trip to doing tasks at the various places we were.  I hope that I can get to know you even better now that we are back from Baltimore.

Isabel – I would have never guessed you were younger than me, I think Anita and I both told you that one night.  You are so sweet and funny and I loved the fact that we have the same sense of humor so we could crack up and the smallest things together and no one else knew what was so funny.  I am also glad that we all got to share your birthday with you!! 

Jamal – The trip would not have been the same without you.  You were the one always making everyone laugh with what you said or with your own laugh.  I enjoyed being able to have a great laugh with everyone after seeing and experiencing some of the things we did and saw. 

Spenser – You are a natural leader but also have this free spirit about you.  You took some amazing photos of the trip.  I am glad that I got to meet you and hear some of your stories and learn more about you. 

Mackenzie – First off I loved the reflections you put together, I looked forward to them every night.  I know you feel that you aren’t able to open up about but I actually admire that you are actually able to speak from the heart and say whats on your mind when it came to the reflection sessions.  You may not have thought you were making sense but it always did.

Leigh – You were so quite but always willing to do whatever was needed.  I loved that you were always volunteering to do whatever the task may be; more people need to be like that in this world.


What an amazing week!

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Anita Bailey and I was one of the trip coordinators along with the ever so amazing Kelsey Brunton. I just recently graduated in May with a Bachelors degree in Communication Studies and a minor in Theater. Upon graduation I was offered  a full time position as a University Fellow to give back to the University that gave so much to me. So here we are, Kelsey and I had the vision of an Alternative Break Program but never imagined it would actually happen! We did it!

As I am sitting here on my couch reflecting on the last week, I honestly cannot believe the amazing experiences that we had. I am so lucky to have a couch to sit on. We take SO MUCH for granted in life when it can be taken from us in an instant or through one mistake or circumstance.

We could not have picked better students to go on this trip! Everyone contributed something to the group that if we had gone without I think the trip would not have been as amazing. We were consistently laughing, reflecting, learning about each other, and sharing our experiences and life stories. It was so neat seeing all the newly formed friendships at the end of the week. Spending a week with the same 10 other people can sometimes prove to be difficult but this group proved that it is possible despite setbacks, baltimore city busts and ghostly parishes.

I will be posting a more in depth reflection post later this week but I really wanted to take some time to thank every single one of the amazing students to decided to give up their spring break to go to Baltimore to help out those less fortunate. YOU ALL ARE AMAZING! Just like all the Christopher Place guys said, you are the next generation and I strongly believe that you all will make a difference! Thank you for being so flexible and all around amazing! 🙂

Last but not least, I want to thank my P.I.C. (Partner in Crime) Kelsey Brunton for being an amazing coworker, friend, and trip coordinator with me. Without you, I would not have had so much patience and serenity. You truly are an inspiration and I learned so much from you this week. THANK YOU.

That’s all for now!


It Could Be Oatmeal

Over the course of this journey through the entrails we as groups have faced many fears, adversities and questionable casseroles(that were actually really delicious/palatable). Yet the greatest inspiration we can pull from this trip is ” and I quote ” IT COULD BE OATMEAL” end quote”.  At Our Daily bread we had a great many experiences, sans the oatmeal that was partaken on the First day we were here.  We realized as we dove for the sugar and perused for the cinnamon complaining about the morning feast and what we could have at the Parish an epiphany crept upon us.  This was all the homeless had to eat, and then it dawned on me even though “I got chips”… “it could be oatmeal”.  So often we complain about the subtleties of life “It could be OATMEAL”.  When life gets you down just remember “It could be OATMEAL”.  When you order a double cream mocha latte, and there’s only a single portion of cream “It could be OATMEAL”.  When you partake in a Buck Double, and receive a Spicy Chick-N Crisp don’t complain “It could be OATMEAL. When you buy flowers at the corner that we stop at everyday and the girl doesn’t except them cause she says flowers die quick tell her “It could be OATMEAL”. When you find out the man you’re serving at Our Daily Bread has a forehead/eyeball fetish just think he could be eating “OATMEAL” off you forehead/eyeball.  So when the surprises of life weigh down on your heart and soul just remember even though you have chips. . . and  I quotate “It could be OATMEAL”

This reflection has been brought to you buy

Jemal Harris a.k.a. the Ghost Whisperer

Spenser Fleming a.k.a. the Lone Runner

and Isabel Portwine a.k.a. the “Girl Who Didn’t Want the Flowers at the corner of Mulberry & Calvert”

As my brother would say, great success!

When you are reading over applications you can’t anticipate group dynamics based on name, year, and involvement at CNU.  You can only hope that the students selected will make it through the week without ripping each others heads off.  It was sheer luck (and lottery system) that these students have not only made it through the week still smiling, but they have become friends.  The students feel comfortable with one another, we have shared stories and ourselves with each other, we have cried together (not the boys of course), and we have laughed and laughed together (thank you Jemal)!  It has truly been a pleasure working alongside of these students.

Concluding thoughts:  I have learned more in this week than I have in a weeks worth of college classes, but don’t get me wrong I learned a lot at CNU.  Instead of reading text books, listening to lectures, taking tests…repeat,  I have experienced.  We have been exposed to poverty, hunger, broken families, and hard work.   All of the volunteers and staff members we have met have been so genuine especially John, from our daily bread, and the wonderful men of Christopher Place.  John shared his many life stories with us, a former marine of 4 tours, a soup kitchen meal recipient, a man of God, and now a staff member at Our Daily Bread.  He thanked all of us for our service at the soup kitchen and explained how the homeless men and women had gotten to the place they are today.

I will never forget the two men from Christopher Place.  Both shared their family troubles, drug abuse, and the journey their bad decisions took them on.  They so rawly shared themselves with a room full of  strangers.  The moral of their stories was that everyone is one bad decision from being homeless.  One bad decision from where you are now and a bad place that you never ever imagined.  Luckily there is a place for men like this to change and to have a second chance at life.  I was so moved by their testimonies I had to move myself very quickly to the bathroom after their presentation to have a meltdown.  I am a sucker for stories of troubles to triumphs.

And now the question is so what? So what do we do now that we have served and been inspired by our many encounters… Hopefully the students will share their thoughts and I will follow up with mine.

thanks for following

Linda+Oh = Low (?)

Hey everyone! My name is Linda Oh (or “Low” as everyone here calls me) and I am from Stafford, Virginia. I am a Freshmen studying biology in hopes to become a great dentist some day. I am so glad and honored to be able to spend my spring break week with this group and to serve the people of Baltimore. Serving people in need is something I love to do, want to do, and stir up a passion to do. I chose to spend my spring break this way because I didn’t want such an opportunity to just pass me by.  I always say “I want to help others” and I thought I should put my words into action this week.

I would like to share with you all my hopes and fears in this trip…

Hopes: From this trip I hope to gain a better understanding of poverty and to learn the things I could do to make a difference. I hope to build relationships and open up myself more to others. For the whole group, I hope that we all take something out of this trip and hold onto it as long as possible. Lastly, I hope to encourage others to have hope :]

Fears: My main fear is not being able to directly act out the plans in my mind. I tend to shy away at times or be stubborn with myself and have a “still” moment. I contemplate whether or not I should do certain things and throughout this trip I will try to stay open and keep engaging myself in all activities.

So….This trip is coming to an end now. This week was packed with work and fun. Working at Our Daily Bread and listening to the men of Christopher’s Place was very uplifting and honoring. When we got to our daily bread, most of us were expecting to serve people that “looked” homeless, but many of the clients that walked in looked/dressed like us and it made me realize that we are all the same and that you cannot judge someone just by their outward appearance. The hardest part of the time spent at daily bread was to throw away bags and bags of bread and left over foods. It really bothered me to see the large amounts of bread being thrown away and to think of all the hungry people out there, but it was necessary for the health and safety of the clients. On Tuesday night, we heard two men from Christopher’s Place share their stories. It was a very moving and definitely sparked more hope inside of me. I hope the best for all the people we came across this week and I hope our hearts to serve does not die out when we go back to school and our homes.





Day Four

Happy 20th Birthday Isabel!!

We started the day off by going to Our Daily Bread, which was our only stop of the day. There was about twice as many volunteers willing to help than there were on Monday, which made it difficult to assign tasks. It was especially hard because there wasn’t as many guests dining as previous days. The volunteer coordinator explained that the first few days of the month were slower because of paychecks and state support checks come in the first of the month. Jemal and Linda  bread consultants, Leigh and Ebony were cleaners, Spenser and Kelsey filled water pitchers, Kristen and Martina filled tea cups and containers and Mackenzie helped in the serving line. Anita and Isabel handed tickets to the guests as they came in.  During the slow periods, a few of us and the other volunteers engaged in conversation and got to know each other on a deeper level.  Anita and Isabel had the opportunity to meet a young woman who shared her own personal story; she had left everything behind in Seattle to follow the voice of Jesus. Both of them had an eye opening spiritual encounter. After cleaning up and eating lunch , the group headed back to the parish to relax and figure out a plan for the rest of the day.

We decided to tour Baltimore. Our first stop was the World Trade Center at Baltimore and sightsee from the observation deck on the top level, however, it unfortunately was closed. 😦  We then tried to visit the Center of Marine Biotechnology for all the science majors, but that was also a bust. We eventually chose to drive around Little Italy and Fells Point which turned out to be successful, but cold. We had dinner at a local restaraunt called Jimmy’s which also turned out successful. After a quick drive back to the parish, we reflected and celebrated Isabel’s birthday with a very delicious birthday cake.

We only have one more day left, so hopefully it is just as enjoyable as today!

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