AmeriCorps Member, Gillian Douple shares some of her first impressions as she begins her year of service, reflecting on one of her many AmeriCorps responsibilities at Franciscan Outreach Association in Chicago.
* Names were changed to protect the privacy of the individuals
"When I found out I would be a full time AmeriCorps Member at a soup kitchen this year, I experienced a panorama of emotions. Excitement, nervousness, expectations of cooking—all kinds of things. When I thought about it, though, I did not expect to be doing the guests’ laundry, though my soup kitchen complex also offers one of the only—if not the only—free drop-off laundry services in the city.
Doing a person’s laundry is, ultimately, a humbling experience. There is an intimacy in cleaning a person’s dirty clothes and the information I can gather from doing the laundry itself. I know that Charles’s wife is a tiny lady with a sassy dressing taste; I know when Mike has been on a drinking binge by the level of disgustingness in his laundry; I know just how many pairs of jeans Roberto has. I know not to inhale when doing the laundry, and I know that Karen is sneaking in her friend’s laundry into her suitcase. Today, I washed Lawrence’s sheets, which were so thin that they were transparent—and now I know for a fact that he has bedbugs as well. There are even times when I can speak to a person who barely knows me and still know what type of underwear they prefer.