Impactful, humbling, powerful, bitter-sweet. These were some of the words used by Emerging Leaders who volunteered at the Community Resource Exchange this week. The annual event brought together more than 500 caring volunteers and local leaders to provide critical resources for 1,300 individuals and families experiencing homelessness.
As a tour guide, Kartik Perisetta from Microsoft helped Marlo, a guest who used to be a chef but fell into homelessness after escaping from family issues. Marlo suffers from PTSD and short-term memory loss and gets by on one meal a day. Yet, his enthusiasm and hopeful attitude were an inspiration to Kartik as he helped Marlo fill out a job application at the event.
Hope for a better future was what also struck his friend Chaitanya Modak, who reflected on how it was initially a jolt to see the types of basic struggles faced by people in our community. A new pair of shoes, a haircut and a hot meal, often things we take for granted in our daily lives, were his guest’s top wish list items. All three were checked off at the event.
Aaron Plascencia from Amazon worked at their onsite hiring booth. He was impressed with all the smart people he met that day who were eager to start working and change their lives. He was also proud to be part of a company that does so much for the community.“That makes me want to stay with Amazon for the next 20 years.”
The Community Resource Exchange is a favorite event for returning volunteer Sarah Chisholm from Starbucks who helped with guest intake. This year she had the opportunity to see someone she had met last year. They caught up on some things the guest had been through over the last year. “Those 5 min just spending time with her, was something I will never forget and really reminded me of why I choose to volunteer every year.”
The Community Resource Exchange happens once a year but Emerging Leaders can make a difference all year around. Check out our monthly calendar and sign up for our upcoming volunteering opportunities.