- Student Life
A few months ago, I attended the GRACE mission trip. GRACE stands for “girls respond actively to Christ’s example”. Thirty senior and junior girls went out and served our community for a week. The purpose of our mission trip was to volunteer at several different agencies within the community that included daycares, food kitchens and domestic violence shelters. Each place we served was very different from the next and each place left a mark on me, but one did more so than others.
Angels of Grace Family Service Center is a daycare for underprivileged children in Kansas City, Kansas. Walking into Angels of Grace I thought it was going to be one of the easier place we would serve. I knew I was going to be able to play with a bunch of little kids. And for anyone who knows me knows I love little kids, so I was super pumped. I never thought for a second that those little kids would change the way I look at others and myself for probably the rest of my life.
My group arrived at Angels of Grace in the afternoon after their nap. We were separated into the two different rooms, the toddler room and what I called, the older kid room. I immediately volunteered myself for the toddler room. They were so cute. It took them a while to warm up to us, but once they did, it was like they had known us since they were born. Each one liked to play different things. Most of the girls liked to play with the baby dolls or in the kitchen. Phillip loved to play with cars. Richard would sit next to me with this plastic Backpack from Dora and I would sing the backpack song. After I sang the song he would dance and pull something out. We did that over and over and over.
My group was extremely lucky and was able to go back to Angels of Grace later in the week. Walking in the second time was so much different. As soon as I walked into the room Phillip and Richard ran up to me and gave me this huge hug. There was another little boy at Angels of Grace that day and his name was Capris. Phillip, Richard, Capris, and I were all buddies. When we went to the gym Richard was on one hip, Capris was on the other, and we raced Phillip around the gym. My team always lost, but the boys didn’t seem to care because they would laugh and laugh. Richard and I were inseparable. He never wanted me to put him down and I didn’t mind holding him one bit. He was my buddy and I would hold him up in the air and say, “My little man, my little man.” He would smile laugh and say, “Little man, little man.”
Throughout the whole day Richard had been trying to eat food off of the floor. I would always tell him that it was gross and he shouldn’t do that, but he did it anyway. Lunchtime rolled around and we walked the little kids to the lunchroom. We had to push Richard’s plate away from him because he was stuffing his face with food and would not chew. We had to do this all throughout lunch. Then he dropped some of his fruit on the floor and bent down to pick it up. The fruit was in his mouth before I could tell him not to eat it. After most of the children were finished eating the woman in charge looked at us and said, “The only reason he eats like that is because that is the only meal he is going to eat today.” Hearing that made my heart sink. My little buddy was only eating one meal a day and that broke my heart.
You never would have guessed that these little children were underprivileged. They all looked healthy, they didn’t smell, and they were just so happy. Children are so helpless and impressionable and I can only imagine what some little kids have seen. Honestly, before going to Angels of Grace I didn’t think about the children affected by poverty at all. Now my eyes have been open to the unfair life these children have to endure. I found great comfort in the fact that the older children looked out for the younger ones, but then I wonder who is looking out for them.
I will never forget the children there at Angels of Grace. I will forever remember their smiles, their laughs, but most importantly the fact that they opened my eyes to the pain and suffering in our own community.
Sophie Menghini, Class of 2017
Sophie is a senior in the Pope Saint John Paul II Community. She is on the tennis team and attends GRACE weekly. She spends her free time working and spending time with family and friends.