Volunteering at El Camino Homeless Organization

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Prior to volunteering at ECHO- El Camino Homeless Organization I had a preexisting image of what a homeless person looked like and acted, the images that I had in my head were based on the typical homeless stereotypes that many average Americans grow up with. Like many American citizens I believed that the majority of homeless individuals chose to be homeless or that the reason why they were homeless was because they had an alcohol or substance abuse problem. With these preceding notions I was a little hesitant on spending the night at a homeless shelter, especially one that I had never heard of and that was in a city I had never visited. I did not know what to expect or how to react being around people who did not have a permanent home over their heads or who did not have stable jobs. I did not expect to walk out of ECHO with a completely different perspective on the homeless; but that was exactly what happened following my fourteen hour overnight stay. More importantly my eyes where opened up to a new perspective on the issue of social class structure; instead of looking at the issue through my perspective, a middle-class college student, a client told me to look at the issue of homelessness through their perspective. This new take on social class structure, homelessness, and her story of her journey to acquire a stable job and home forever changed the way that I see homelessness and class structure. In order to delve further into the topic it is important that I first summarize my experience at ECHO starting from when I first arrived.
I arrived at ECHO promptly at five o’clock scared and confused because I did not know what to expect. My fears were shared with my fellow classmate, Riley; having carpooled to Atascadero we disc...

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...why many people continue to be in poverty or homeless because people turn down help from individuals who are in the middle or upper class. Instead of accepting the help and using it to get out of poverty they turn it away because they feel they are being pitied. Bonnie explained that this is the reason why many individuals continue to be in poverty because they are prejudice towards those who want to help them instead of accepting the help.
My stay at ECHO was filled with many joyful experiences and meaningful conversation with people who completely different than I expected. The image of the typical homeless person that I had in my mind was completed erased and replaced with an image of loving hard work individuals who were only one good opportunity away from holding a job and stable home. Overall I enjoyed my visit at ECHO and plan to return in the near future.

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