Since I was unable to work with Age Action for the remaining month of the NU.in. I had the opportunity be place with The Simon Community. Just as a quick summery, The Simon Community works to help the impoverished and homeless of Dublin. I specifically worked with their Soup Run initiative. The Soup Runs volunteers make soup and sandwiches for the homeless then go out into the streets and deliver the food, as well as making sure the that they people were alright and if they had a place to stay for the night.
The most obvious themes within this initiative runs along the lines of those old Puritan values of looking after your fellow man. The Simon Community really tries to forge this sense of community within Dublin. The night of my first soup run, The Simon Community also ran their weekly Social Club. The social club really shows how The Simon Community makes make an attempt at building this social capital. Instead of functioning as an ordinary soup kitchen, The Simon Community hosts a social where the pizza is donated and the homeless and the housed are put together and socialize as any other person would. I was stunned by the sincerity of the volunteers and how they were able to easily look past the superficial aspects of the homeless and interact with them like normal members of society.
Although I have not worked with them for long, I get the sense that The Simon Community is doing quite well. I am not sure if they receive any grants from the government or if they rely strictly on donations, but on in terms of volunteering both of the nights that I was there, there were three people per route where as you only need two per route. So I think that they are functioning just fine on the volunteer front.
I was astounded that Dublin has so many support systems in place for the homeless. I do not recall Boston having any such initiatives. I hope to see what Boston does for the homeless and if an initiative does not exist, I might just try and start one.