My time with Mercy Brown Bag has further opened my eyes to the realities of injustice and the ways that the systems in our country leave people out. Being born within a certain context should not make the difference between whether or not I will have enough resources to survive. Taking the time to step out of my comfort and into another person's reality as a volunteer exposes me to experiences that I hope to pass on to other people. This story is just one example of the hundreds of interactions I have had with our recipients:
I was working with a gentleman of Asian descent who spoke no English, and I was asking him some questions with the help of our translated forms. With a big smile on his face, he realized what I was asking for, and he went into his bag and pulled out a paper. His hands were shaking uncontrollably, and they were swollen with arthritis. He handed me a paper which contained his social security statement for 2018. My heart sank as I read the notice that stated that his income had gone up 0.2% this year due to the rise in the cost of living. His new income is now $494/month. In Alameda County, $4,691/month is considered “low-income.”
I fought back tears as I reflected on how the systems have failed and how so many people are suffering. So many people in Alameda County and the United states do not get what they need to live full lives. What can I do to promote change? I can volunteer at places like Mercy Brown Bag that works tirelessly to make sure that the seniors in Alameda County have fresh food to eat.