Category Archives: Memphis

Memories of a Special Bond

By Lindsey Johnson, alumna of Portland 2013 and Memphis 2014

While it is true that no two AJSS trips are the same, I was expecting the basic aspects of friendships and hard work from my trip to Portland, Oregon in 2013 to be replicated in my trip to Memphis, Tennessee in 2014. Those two things both played a huge role in my second trip, but there was something unique about this trip: Marie. Once a week, we visited the residents of an assisted living facility. We gave them manicures and assisted them with activities such as bingo and drawing. During our first visit there, I met Marie. I walked with her from the room where we had lunch back to her room, and I decided to stay and talk with her when we got there. She told me all about her childhood and growing up during the Great Depression, how her education was cut short so she could work instead, her late husband who was “the red head who was quite a catch,” and her grandson who was starting college in the fall and how she wanted to set us up. When it was time to leave, I gave her a hug and headed to the lobby to meet the rest of the AJSS participants. During the van ride back, we shared our stories about the different residents we spoke to.

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Truth in Poetry

While in Birmingham last weekend, Team Memphis explored their journeys through poetry. Though a very intimate form of writing, some of our participants were generous enough to share their poems, two of which are included below.

Bright lights shine into outer space,
But these do not exemplify my city.
Purple mountains majesty stare down on us
The landscape rich with the bareness of desert.
Black, brown, white, red, and yellow inhabit this place of sin,
Producing a melting pot of culture under a radiant broiler.
Six years past, the houses came crashing down,
Violence and poverty, dismay and contempt, hid behind the strip of gold.
Six years passed and my city can boom once more,
Providing a haven for prosperous life, a Treasure Island.

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Two-Thirty Feeling In Memphis

By Seamus Lynch

There is nothing that drains the body like heat. Not cold, rain, wind… nothing. It leaves you a withered husk of yourself, unable to do much more than sweat. There is little you can do to protect yourself besides going home, turning the AC on high and taking a siesta, perhaps with the hope of waking up sometime in November, when all the bugs are gone and sunscreen is just a memory. Of course, on this AJSS trip, that particular escape is a fantasy. When we leave our home every morning, it is almost always with the expectation of a hard day of manual labor, at some community garden or warehouse. Going home because its too hot is not an option.

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3000 Pounds of Meat vs 3000 Words Read

By Sam Glasberg
(Isaac Haft takes credit for the title)

As humans, we naturally compare one thing to another, whether we mean to or not. I find myself making these inherent comparisons from one work-site to the next. Every site is unique, and holds a different level of meaning. In strict terms of the number of people directly benefiting from our work, the Mid-South Food Bank, for example, undoubtedly outweighs any other service opportunity in which we might find ourselves; however, Mid-South Food Bank provides the least amount of direct personal connection. The only direct service we see are the numbers read off to us at the end of the day of how many thousands of pounds of food we helped organize, sort and distribute and how many people will now be fed because of said numbers.

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A Weekend in Little Rock

By Isaac Haft

This past weekend, Aaron and Misha, two of our four amazing staff members, planned a phenomenal trip to Little Rock, Arkansas. On Friday morning, some of the AJSS participants traveled to the local YMCA to get one last shower in before having to go three days without one. We finally hit the road at about 9:30 in the morning and our first road trip had begun! As we drove on the single highway that connects Tennessee and Arkansas, we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of a deluge of never-ending water. We drove for about 15 minutes during the storm, as the hazards of the truck ahead helped guide Aaron along the highway. As suddenly as the storm arrived the sky cleared, the sun came out, and it looked like a whole different trip to everyone.

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