Hands On Hartford

Looking Back on a Transformative Experience

August 11, 2018

A.J. in his first week at Hands On Hartford

Looking back on my year of service, I can’t help but be swept up in a wave of nostalgia. I have grown so much as a person, and I am going to miss dearly everyone I’ve worked with here at Hands On Hartford. It is tempting, I think, to paint over the rougher parts of our past and construct a memory that is flawless and shining. But the best parts of this position were seeing the realities of poverty and being able to help in some small way to alleviate them.

A.J. with Chef Kim Bunton of the Community Meals Team and Serika Walker, VISTA Leader

Working at Community Meals has been such a foundational experience for me. I will carry the memories of the people I met with me wherever I go. They were not always happy to see me, not always in a good mood. They could be rude, they could be short with me, they did not always understand. But they were real people. When they needed help they leaned on each other. They joked around with me, and made me feel welcome in the community. Some gave me nicknames, some confided in me, and some just appreciated being left alone. I tried in my small way to be there for them, to help when I could and listen when I could not.

A.J. with Anne Goshdigian, Co-Coordinators of the Faces of Homelessness Speakers’ Bureau

Acting as the Coordinator of the Faces of Homelessness Speaker’s Bureau was one of the most powerful experiences of my life. Getting to help our incredible speakers to tell their stories was a challenge for a shy person like me, but in doing so I learned and grew in ways I could not have anticipated. It has been my honor to work with our speakers, and I will treasure our time together for the rest of my life.

Working with Hands On Hartford has been a transformative experience for me. I still cannot believe that this year is over already, and I will dearly miss everyone I have worked with. I started this year of service wanting to do something for my community, something that really mattered, and I could not have imagined the path that I would travel on. This  is an organization that really does care about the people they help, and I have been lucky to get to lend a hand over this past year.


This post was written by A.J. Wyman, Food Access and Faces of Homelessness AmeriCorps VISTA. You may contact the author at awyman@handsonhartford.org.