Service, Shows, and Shenanigans

Hi all, I’m back to update you on my service trip in Northern CA. I last left off on last Tuesday, a day before my service began.

Now that I have had 2 full days of service at Food for People, I’m happy to share my experience with you. To sum up the experience so far, it’s been a lot of hard labor and work.

Food For People mission statement (3/6/19)

On my first day, I started off by meeting the staff and other volunteers at the Food Bank. (Most of them were super cool college students from the nearby university). Afterwards, I was asked to do a number of tasks– sort the pantry, clean and bag produce, weigh bags to be shipped to homeless shelters and senior centers.

The tail end of crating 300 POUNDS of carrots (3/6/19)
More produce sorting for senior citizens (3/6/19)
A quick glance at the food pantry (3/6/19)
Their warehouse (3/6/19)

Wednesday was a long day, filled with a lot of sorting, cleaning and sweeping. Thursday was a nice break, and Friday I went back for more service. I spent the whole day there, and there was a huge “Potato project”. Food for People got a donation from a nearby potato farm and received about 1000 pounds (yes, one thousand) of potatoes, and they needed the volunteers to clean them off and sort them.

Here is some of the aftermath of 1000 pounds of potato sorting/crating. (3/8/19)

After that long day of service on Friday, I attended a fun event for International Women’s Day! It was at the nearby Arcata playhouse where they had many women come sing, speak and laugh with other women who came to attend. It was a great experience to be surrounded by other strong women of northern CA and see how they use their feminism and intersectionality in their community.

Some singing (3/8/19)

The next day I spent some time exploring! On Saturday, I went to the nearby Eureka bay and saw some beautiful dunes. (We didn’t stay too long because of how rainy) Afterwards, we travelled up to a smaller redwoods forest, filled with absolute beauty! I’m looking forward to going to the real redwoods next weekend, when it is sunnier.

Small dunes and a happy Bess (3/9/19)
The beautiful redwoods (3/9/19)
A rare Trillium !
Cool shot of the trees (3/9/19)
Banana Slug! (3/9/19)
A carved Redwood stump (3/9/19)

That night, I went to a dance competition concert in Eureka, where the family I am staying with had a friend in the competition. It was a beautiful theater and a great show! The dancers were so beautiful and talented.

The next day was a beautiful sunny day, and we took a hike on the dunes and went to a Pacific beach! I haven’t been to the Pacific in a while, so it was nice to dip my feet in the cold water.

Thanks for checking out my projects progress and reading about all the work and fun I’m having! I’ll make sure to come up with a few more posts before my project ends in a couple weeks. Have a good week!

My First Few Adventures! (And then some)

I did not expect to experience so many ‘adventures’ in only the first few days of my trip; so far this has been a great experience of travel and exploring the area!

The first ‘adventures’ were definitely the challenges it took to travel across the country. Originally, I had two flights booked leaving Saturday afternoon, and arriving Saturday night in Arcata. However, my first flight was delayed by 4 hours, and I missed my connecting flight at LAX. I was about to sleep in the airport until these nice strangers offered me their extra hotel room. I proceeded with caution, of course, but the offer turned out to be genuine, (and a kind one at that).

Outside my hotel room (3/2/19)

I stayed in a beautiful hotel room that night and then got on more flights the next day. Each of those were delayed by some time as well, so I ended up landing in Arcata almost 24 hours later than planned!

Landing in the Eureka/Arcata Airport (3/3/19)

I spent that night catching up with my family friends (who I am staying with) and getting some rest. The next day, I slept in, took a walk, and went to orientation at Food For People! Orientation was filled with important information about volunteers, where they are needed, the impact they have on the community, and so on. I was able to create a schedule with the director there, where I will be volunteering 3 out of 5 days in the week. Each day I will volunteer around 7 hours, mostly in the pantry and warehouse, (I will explain the work I do in later blog posts).

The Arcata/Eureka area is extremely interesting, where the population is a mix of hippies, southerners and indigenous people. There are many active Native American tribes in this area, and they also have many family owned businesses in the area! There is also a nearby playhouse and college town that I have discovered! I also found it interesting how the mix of the beach, the forest, the mountains and the palm trees all in one town makes for an odd yet picturesque place.

Taking a walk by the river (3/4/19)
An interesting mix of flora and fauna (3/4/19)
Driving around Eureka, where the food bank is. (3/4/19)

My second night, I had the pleasure of attending an event at the local Arcata playhouse. The playhouse is currently in a series of events for National Women’s History Month (!!!) and that night they were playing Roma, a new (and absolutely wonderful) Oscar nominated movie about home workers in Mexico during the political 1970s. Beforehand however, there was a discussion held where the playhouse brought in real house workers who were members of the community, and they shared their powerful stories. I felt very lucky and humbled for these strong women to share their stories with me.

Discussion before Roma at the Arcata Playhouse (3/4/19)
Female-Based artwork displayed at the playhouse (3/4/19)
More art (3/4/19)

Today, (3/5/19), I spent the day working on some writing in the lovely home I’m staying in since the rain and fog was coming down pretty hard. After relaxing for the day, I went to a spoken-word poetry cafe a few minutes away. If you know me, you know I love poetry. So much. I was lucky enough to get a seat in the crowded cafe, and I was also lucky enough that there was an open mic. After listening to many college students speaking, I really couldn’t help myself from participating as well. It gives me great joy to write and then perform it, and by the end of the night I felt extremely happy and accomplished! I did not get a video of my performance, as I was there on my own, but hopefully I will go next week with the new friends I made who go to Humboldt State College who will take a video for me!

A shot of a performer and my hot chocolate! (3/5/18)
The cafe’s SUPER cool bathroom (3/5/19)
A nervous Bess performing her spoken word poetry (3/5/19)
A happy Bess post last-minute poetry performance (3/5/19)

Tomorrow, I will start my volunteering at the food bank! I’m looking forward to the experiences I’ll have there in the coming days. I will make sure to keep you all updated on every adventure that crosses my path. Thanks for reading!