Since September, I have been volunteering at the Irish Deaf Society (IDS) charity shop. Not only has the organization affected me, but it has impacted the members of the Phisborough community as well. My experience at the IDS has opened my eyes to the disparity of wealth in the country of Ireland and specifically Dublin. It is highly unfortunate how many people are truly struggling financially in this country. Although I have been exposed to communities in poverty in the past, this experience has provided me with a new lens because I was personally interacting with the people from this background.
From about 1995 to 2000, the Irish economy experienced an economic boom called the Celtic Tiger. However, Ireland has since fallen into a recession where over 15% of the population is unemployed. The charity shop provides a place where the disadvantaged can purchase quality items for an astonishingly low price. The patrons of the shop are often people from low income—or no income— families. At the shop I am required to search through the merchandise to check that everything is presentable and that everything has a price tag. When I am completing this task, I often notice that there are quite a few hangers with no garments on them among the rest of the merchandise. I was later told that this is because items in the shop are frequently stolen. This is highly unfortunate both for the shop and for the thief. The shop is intended to raise money to support the deaf rights initiative in Ireland and the constant loss of profit in the shop due to theft is hindering this cause. Additionally, it is saddening that the culprit in these situations feels that they need to illegally take items in order to provide basic necessities to themselves and their families.
In the United States, charity shops are not as popular as they are in Ireland. I think this is mainly because the US economic is not in as critical condition as the Irish economy is. However, the introduction of charity shops would greatly benefit the less fortunate in America. Charity shops would enable the impoverished to purchase necessary items for themselves, their families and their homes second hand for an incredibly low price. The money that is saved by shopping at thrift shops could then be used to buy things for their children, pay the bills, and get out of debt.
This experience—not only at the IDS living in Dublin as well—has taught me to be even more grateful for how fortunate I have been. At the age of 18 I have had the opportunity to work somewhere and experience things that others would not come close to in a life time.