By Lauren Chen, Most Valuable Student Scholar
A few weeks ago, I attended my second Elks Scholar Service Trip, this time in Seattle! I had an awesome experience at the 2021 Summer Service Trip in Boston, so I was super excited to explore Seattle and serve with my fellow Elks scholars.
Our first service site was Immanuel Community Services. ICS runs multiple programs, including a Food Bank, a Hygiene Center where people can wash their clothes or take a shower, a Recovery Program that provides shelter to men overcoming addiction, and a monthly Community Lunch that offers a hot meal to anyone who is hungry. With these programs, they reach over 1,700 people every month! That morning, we helped reorganize the freezer, hand out food, clean the van and facilities, and melt more than 300 pounds of expired ice cream down the drain. I was in awe of how diverse ICS’s programs were and how many people they help in the Seattle community.
Our second service site was Jubilee Women’s Center, which supports women currently living below the poverty line by connecting them with resources and opportunities they can use to build a stable future. They placed a lot of emphasis on the importance of dignity. Our job was to implement an irrigation system for their new garden beds! I was especially proud of our teamwork that day, as we went from a state of confusion to organized gardening experts. I truly hope our plants flourish in the weeks to come.
Our third and final service site was DESC Rainier House. They aim to help the most vulnerable and marginalized populations through initiatives like supportive housing, health care, the Crisis Solutions Center, and the Supported Employment
Program. DESC even conducts academic research published in peer-reviewed journals, often in collaboration with the University of Washington. There, we sorted through hundreds of bags of donated clothes to suit DESC’s needs and reorganized part of their warehouse.
Outside of service, we also had the opportunity to explore the city aboard the Goodtime III boat with Argosy Cruises. There were beautiful views of the Seattle skyline, famous floating homes, and boats from Deadliest Catch. One of the coolest parts was being lowered 20 feet through the locks. The captain was even an Elk!
In addition, we took a trip on the Monorail to the Pop Culture Museum and ate lots of yummy food at Pike Place Market, which featured fish throwing, a Ferris wheel ride and the Gum Wall.
The trip would have been incomplete without a visit to Ballard, Wash., Lodge No. 827. Both the building and the sunset view over the water were breathtaking! Overall, the service trip embodied fun, friends, and most of all, #ElksFamily. Through our daily reflections, we were able to connect our service that day to our personal lives. I am immensely grateful to all my peers for creating a safe environment where we could open up and be vulnerable with each other; it’s amazing how close we all became after just a few days. I appreciate the honesty of my fellow scholars, whether it be sharing moments of personal growth or offering constructive criticism for future service trips.
To me, these Elks Scholar Service Trips are a way to meet new friends, explore new cities and serve as a family.
Lauren Chen is a 2020 MVS scholar currently studying Math and Statistics at Harvard University. This summer, Lauren is working as a Junior Trading Intern with Belvedere Trading.
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