In Gender and Women’s Studies, we learn how to look at the world differently. This is exactly what this internship has made me do. I wanted to intern somewhere that would really make a difference in the community and I believe that I achieved this at Gryphon Place. We all hear about poverty, homelessness, and other community tragedies. Sometimes, we think that these issues are not close to home or don’t affect us. This is entirely untrue. Because I have only lived near WMU’s campus, I have not really experienced the poverty and hardships of Kalamazoo. This internship has made me realize how important volunteering and helping out the community really is. I did not realize how privileged I was to have food, a warm home, and the opportunity to attend college. Some of the callers that we get are homeless, mentally/physically/emotionally disabled, victims of domestic abuse, etc. Most of the time, the callers who are victims of abuse are women in the community. It is so important for women to be able to have somewhere to call and talk about their issues and to be able to get the resources to get them out of their current situation. It really is an amazing feeling when someone thanks you and tells you that you have changed their life.
Before this internship, I did not even know about 211 or Lifeline (suicide hotline). Now, I am constantly spreading the word for people to call us if they need any resources or just a listening ear. Gryphon Place does unbelievable things for people in the community and I believe that people need to know about them! I am really glad I interned at Gryphon Place and would recommend it for any GWS major/minor looking for an internship. I have finished my hours for the internship, but I am going to continue to volunteer at Gryphon Place and help out our community!
Because yesterday was Veteran’s Day, we answered Central Michigan’s 211 calls. Central Michigan includes Jackson, Lansing, Eaton, Hillsdale, and other counties in that area. My hometown is Jackson, so it was a little different to answer calls from this county. Most of the calls that I received were about Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets. Out of all the calls I received about assistance for holiday baskets, every one was a woman. These women were calling to get help providing for their families during the holidays. Thankfully, there are a few different resources around town that help families with food and toys for children. I knew that the town I came from was not the wealthiest place, but I did not think about not having enough money to give your kids a hot meal or a toy for Christmas. Sometimes, people think that issues like this don’t happen to people they know or see everyday, but it does. I realized that we should not be quick to judge these single moms who really are trying their best to provide for their families. I cannot imagine being a single mother and barely making enough money to pay the bills. On top of that, having to make sure that your children have a few gifts to wake up to on Christmas day. Unfortunately, this is a harsh reality for a large number of families. I was really relieved and happy that there are agencies in the community that help families during the holiday season. Working at Gryphon Place has really brought me down to earth and helped me realize that people share a lot of the same problems, no matter what their class/race/ethnicity.
Want to earn internship credit while working to advance the concerns of LGBT people, women, African Americans, Latinos, labor, and college students? Apply now to join the campaign for Jon Hoadley for State Representative in January 2014. For questions about GWS internships, contact the department; for questions about the campaign, contact David Topping, email@example.com.
Application for internship with the Hoadley campaign: http://www.tinyurl.com/hoadleyintern/
The other day, I had a female caller who just wanted to vent. She told me that she was completely exhausted from working a full-time job and taking care of her kids at home. She was married, but she told me that her husband did not help out around the house because he was always too tired from work. In some of my GWS classes, we learned about this “second shift” where working women still do more childcare/household duties than their working husbands. This caller was so stressed out and tired that a simple listening ear really helped her calm down and organize her thoughts. I understand where she is coming from because that has to be stressful to work the same amount as your husband, but still have to do all the work at home. Unfortunately, this is not unusual of many working women. During the call, I did not get to talk very much, which was fine. When the woman was finished with her stories, she let out a sigh of relief and told me how grateful she was that there were people to finally listen to her. It really makes a world of a difference to have someone to understand and identify her exhaustion with her current situation. In training, when we get calls like this, we are trained to repeat back “content to feeling words.” Meaning, if someone tells you about a very stressful or tired day, you could say “I can hear that your feel exhausted.” Sometimes, people get really excited and grateful that someone can hear and understand what they are going through. It helps them relax and feel like their problems matter to someone else.