EarthLinks - For People & the Planet
by Sr. Benita Volk
(This article was originally published in This Good Work)
Let’s say you live in Denver, Colorado. Wait — to live somewhere usually implies you have a permanent address, probably a phone — and you don’t have those things, because you’re homeless. Or let’s say you used to live on the street, but recently you were able to rent a small room. The shared bathroom is down the hall, the hot water is usually cool, the room is about 6 feet by 6 feet.
But it has four walls between you and the winter blizzards and the blazing, high-altitude sun of summer. And let’s also say that whether you’re homeless or have shelter, you’re longing for community and a place where you can be given respect and dignity. That’s where EarthLinks comes in. As one of EarthLink’s brochures states: “At EarthLinks, everything we do benefits people and the planet. Through our Micro-Enterprise Workshop Program, participants who are homeless and low-income earn a small stipend for their work in our garden and creative workshop. Participants create Earth-friendly crafts, art or products while benefiting from skills development, increased accountability and goal setting. At different times of the year, various programs are ongoing.” When I began volunteering at EarthLinks, I worked in the arts and crafts workshops. After I knew the participants, I thought some of them would benefit from a kind of therapeutic writing — that is, writing honestly in a safe, nonjudgmental environment about their experiences.
The writing project went great. The participants found out things about themselves and others in the group that led to a stronger sense of community and belonging. Then the pandemic reared its ugly head and group activities temporarily ended.
The programs at EarthLinks are slowing going back to normal. I don’t know what form my work there will take once the volunteers can return. What I do know is that the people and the mission of EarthLinks (to benefit both the poor and the Earth) have grabbed my heart and I’ll do whatever I can that “not one drop of Precious Blood be shed in vain” there.