By Narendra Nayak
About 60 students from grade 10 spent a day in mid-February serving the clients of InnVision, a homeless shelter in San Jose. Signups for this event started as a trickle a few weeks prior, but quickly gained momentum. With the signups came a generous flow of donations, in cash and kind, and several parents stepped up to volunteer their time and make the event memorable for the folks at InnVision.
The students sorted toys and clothes, cleaned hallways and bathrooms, did gardening and neighborhood cleanup, and came together to cook a sumptuous meal for about 50 of InnVision’s clients. Victor Adler, teacher and sophomore class dean, was there to lend a helping hand with his students.
Following a brief introduction and tour of the shelter by InnVision staff, the students were divided into groups of 10. Each group spent the rest of the day rotating from one activity to another, including weeding the garden, cutting fruits and vegetables for lunch, mopping hallways or sorting toys.
The students displayed their creativity in setting and decorating the lunch tables, then donned aprons and gloves to serve soup, garlic bread, chow mein, naan and Indian curry, a tri-tip beef entrée, followed by cake and fruit salad for dessert.
The shelter’s guests were a happy lot as they ate with relish. “The warm day meant hard work both indoors and outdoors but the sophomores did it all with a smile on their lips and a sparkle in their eyes, knowing that their efforts were making it a day to remember for those less fortunate than themselves,” said Naren Nayak (Avinash, grade 10), one of many parents who helped prepare the lunch and supervise the student activities.
The unspent portion of the donations collected for food totaled $861 and was donated to InnVision. Erika Sutton, InnVision’s volunteer coordinator, said, “Our sincere thanks to members of The Harker School’s tenth grade class who held a very productive service day at InnVision Georgia Travis Center, a daytime drop-in center for homeless and at-risk women and children.”
Students were busily involved in a variety of projects including sorting through clothing donations, planting flowers, reorganizing a class room and art room, and cleaning the center’s great room. A very special thank you goes to Nayak, who coordinated the entire effort, including engaging other parents to volunteer.
Jaynie Neveras, community relations manager for InnVision, was very appreciative. “How wonderful that these compassionate sophomore students would make time during their break to volunteer and give back to the community!” she said.
“They were able to see firsthand that due to the economy, the face of homelessness has changed forever. Even once comfortably established families are now in need. And whether the students planted flowers, sorted donations, or prepared and served up a tantalizing lunch, they truly made a difference,” said Neveras. More information about donating to or volunteering at InnVision can be found at www.innvision.org.