Building a Community of Support
While attending Colgate University, Connor conducted research on the causes and treatments of mental illness. Studies showed mental illness went hand in hand with a persistent cycle of poverty leading to bleak and sobering outcomes. A summer internship at the Mission was a chance to witness firsthand the effects of both mental illness and substance abuse among those within and outside of a treatment program. It’s no surprise Connor might have come to Boston with preconceived notions about how addicts and homeless people would look.
Instead, Connor found tremendous charisma and charm from Mission residents and guests. Any negative stereotypes he had about people who were homeless or addicts were quickly wiped away and replaced with kindness and acceptance. Getting involved was the key; hearing firsthand accounts of people struggling led to understanding, more than reading or study ever can.
So Connor dove right into the job of getting people involved. As a volunteer coordinator, Connor saw and cultivated an extraordinary level of selflessness in volunteer groups--people came from all walks of life to bring healing and recovery to those in great need. Just as Mission residents and guests bond together in shared, often painful experiences of homelessness, addiction, and recovery, so the volunteer groups, Mission staff and donors dedicate time, energy, and resources in a shared community of healing and support. Building this supportive community became Connor’s primary goal; calling, emailing, greeting, training, helping, photographing, and thanking volunteers, as well as integrating them smoothly with staff, resident helpers, and others.
Connor easily saw the benefits. People’s eyes and perspectives widen when exposed to others with no homes and no money. Volunteers shed their social status when serving; it’s the only way to treat people with equal dignity and respect. And, of course, residents and guests benefit from kindness and generosity.
Thanks Connor for helping us to build a great volunteer community!