Five Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) Townhouse Resident Assistants (RA) and the Assistant Resident Director (ARD) collected toiletries and winter gear to deliver to the Friends of Boston’s Homeless organization and distributed bagged lunches to the hungry on the streets of Boston on Saturday, Nov. 19.
“It definitely puts you outside of your comfort zone,” sophomore RA Katie Kelly said about the day.
RAs must participate in staff development opportunities as a part of their job. “We are given so much money to throw programs and take trips, and we just all decided to change directions for a moment and think of better ways to spend our money,” Emily Lamplough, the ARD of the Townhouses said.
Lamplough hoped she made a difference in someone’s life through this volunteer project and showed her staff how to use what they have to help others. “Change doesn’t always come from million dollar donations, it comes from challenging the attitudes on how we view people that are different than us, and how we treat people who do not have what we have.”
Senior RA Derek Vanat was surprised to see that many people on the streets did not trust the group. “[Is it] because of past experiences? Or their distrust in humans? Is it a survival mechanism, to watch your own back until given a reason to proceed otherwise?” he wondered.
The Townhouse staff decided to take on this volunteering opportunity for several reasons.
“We are all incredibly privileged to be at this amazing school, living on campus and experiencing college life. While we might not all be financially stable, we are all still here, which is a lot more than many others can say,” Lamplough said. “For those who know Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, in order to be successful in life, you need to have a stable start. Without a shelter or daily meal, a person will never be able to live their dreams.”
Senior Julia Repaal, the administrative RA, participated in this volunteer opportunity to inspire more people to help others. “With just a little amount of stuff you can make someone’s day and if we can do that, then someday, hopefully, they will be able to pay it forward to someone else and make that person’s day,” Repaal said.
Vanat wanted to instill hope in the people they helped. “The number of people in need was a heart-wrenching reality,” he said. “Knowing that we helped them for today will hopefully give them hope for tomorrow.”
Senior and RA Adrian Ramos commented on what the group was able to do and how it made him think. “I’ve seen things like it before but it still gets tough,” Ramos said. “I seek to understand them better, every time. To seem them as they are, still so humble and kind.”
Most of the RAs wished they could do more to help, but were happy with what they did do.
Many offices around campus supported this volunteer opportunity that the RA staff underwent. “I was not expecting the amount of support that we received from other offices, and I am so grateful for everyone’s help,” Lamplough said. Both the Office of Residence Life and the Center for Community Engaged Learning helped give the staff of six the financial capability to do this.
The Office of Residence Life often completes community service projects during RA summer training. In the past, SNHU RA’s and RD’s have cleaned up and prepared elementary schools in Manchester, N.H., for students to return to in the fall. “As an organization, we like to recognize the privilege we have and use it to make a difference, as much as we can,” Lamplough said.