By Diane Holloway
Like a few other daughters from our wonderful National Charity League’s mother-daughter teams, Abbey Archer has spent a portion of her summers serving with us at Trinity Center during many of her formative years.
Turning 17 in September and heading into her junior year at Huntington-Surrey Preparatory School, Abbey and her mother Brandy first came to us when Abbey was just finishing 6th grade. Over the past four summers, the two have prepared and served breakfast, worked in the women’s clothing closet, helped our lady neighbors “shop” and participated in our Tuesday arts and crafts program.
Wherever they are needed, Abbey and Mom are happy to serve — so much so that they ended their most recent summer with us spending every morning except Friday in our kitchen. Abbey even joined the Thursday basketball game with some very tall neighbors, having fun and winding up appropriately sweaty!
“Volunteering with the homeless has definitely had an impact on the rest of my life,” Abbey said. “It has made me realize that others do not have the same opportunities as I have but should not be thought less of because of it.”
Brandy says Trinity Center quickly became their favorite mother-daughter destination, so they signed up as soon as the shifts were posted by NCL. Brandy actually joined our year-round Thursday volunteer crew a year ago.
Although Abbey has been happy to work wherever she is needed, she especially enjoys the Monday shopping program, helping neighbor ladies pick out clothes. Who doesn’t like shopping, right? Especially teenage girls!
“Shopping to me is more fun than handing out food because it’s more personal,” said Abbey. “I find it easier to strike up a conversation with someone when I’m with them for an extended period of time.”
It’s only natural that spending time with people experiencing poverty and homelessness sparks a deeper understanding and stronger compassion. Both mother and daughter share those feelings.
“My perception of homeless people has definitely changed since I started volunteering,” Abbey said. “One time I was coloring at the craft table with some ladies, and one told me about how she had written a book. She wasn’t going to keep the money she made; instead, she was going to donate it to charity. I thought that was very selfless of her. She felt that so much charity had been given to her that it was time for her to give back.”
Working at Trinity Center brings joy, but it can also bring volunteers face to face with painful realities.
“I think the most challenging part is hearing about everyone’s struggles and occasionally having to realize that we are unable to help them to the extent that they need,” Abbey said.
And yet, this devoted mother-daughter duo will undoubtedly return next summer, helping our neighbors and providing Abbey with experiences that will last a lifetime.