Alice, Senior at The Pingry School
Second year on TTH
The personal experience that has given me the most satisfaction in my life was probably the first Bridges Run that I went on my freshman year in high school. In middle school I made lunches for the Runs, but we weren’t actually allowed to go on Runs until we reached high school. I was so excited when I became a 9th grader and was finally able to go on a Run. It was an experience I will never forget. If you ask anyone who has been on a Run what it was like, they will most likely describe it as “eye-opening,” but that really is the best way to describe it. I was unsure what to expect at first and even a little bit nervous because I was not sure what it would be like to interact with homeless people, especially in New York City and at night. We got to the first stop and everyone flew into action, setting up the tables and the food while a long line of people looked on in anticipation. It was absolutely freezing, but I felt guilty showing any indication of my discomfort because I was not the one who had to sleep out on the streets that night. I was blown away by how friendly and appreciative everyone was. Many homeless people who come to the Runs are quiet and subdued, but there are also many who love to chat with us. They were so thankful for the small amounts of food and clothing that we provided; it was extremely rewarding and also heartbreaking and made me wish I could do more. The best feeling in the world was at the end of the Run when there were not many people left, and we were able to pile lunch bags into their arms. I remember there was one little girl in particular who looked so unbelievably happy to be receiving her sandwich bag that it made my heart swell. I remember going home to the warmth of my house after that first Run and taking a long, hot shower. I felt guilty that I was able to warm up while the people I had been with an hour earlier were still out in the cold. That first Run gave me so much satisfaction because I felt that I was truly giving back to the community in such a real and meaningful way, and I was actually able to interact with the people I was helping. It also made me want to continue to volunteer with Bridges and get more involved, which I have done over the past four years, going on every Run that I can and joining the Teens Tackle Homelessness Committee. Bridges Runs are something that I absolutely love doing and would strongly recommend anyone and everyone to participate in at least once if they get the chance to do so. That first Run allowed me to see the world from a new perspective, one very different from the sheltered life I had always known. I continue to go on Runs because they put me in touch with reality and remind me to be thankful for what I have, while giving me a chance to give back to my community and make a difference.