Hi everyone, my name is Nicole Sanderson and this is my second YNIA trip. I recently just graduated Holy Name High School in Worcester, MA and I am heading off to Western New England University. This week I have been serving along side 5 other students and one chaperone at GAP Ministries. GAP Ministries began in 1999 as a nonprofit for people in need in three core areas: Family, Community and Ministry. In the beginning of the week we were all working alongside Chef John and Chef Cassie in the kitchen at GAP. On the first day we made sandwiches after sandwiches after sandwiches (I never wanted to eat another sandwich again). Throughout the week, we continued to work in the kitchen all day until the middle of the week when we started taking shifts between the kitchen and the warehouse. My first job in the warehouse was sorting through bags that the foster kids receive when they enter one of the GAP Ministries foster houses. We checked to make sure every bag had a blanket, toothbrush, toothpaste and a few toys and possibly a stuffed animal. Most of the foster kids get taken from their homes in the middle of the night and don't come with anything other than the clothes that are on their body, so these bags are for them to have something of their own, just for them. On Thursday, we sorted through boxes and boxes of medicines and health care products and organized them all into bins, which the medicines and health care products would later be put on a shelf for the foster parents to take for free.
Personally, working at GAP Ministries has opened me to a whole other world I could never have imagined before. Hearing stories of the some of the kids in the GAP foster houses absolutely broke my heart. They struggled in their younger lives but fought back to make sure they made themselves have a good life, where they are happy. One girl that we met while we were there was Val. She had a tough life but is now living in the GAP foster home and changing her life. She got to meet up with her younger brother, who lives in another foster home, for the first time in 4 years. Her brother immediately reminded her and when she was telling our group about that experience, I was completely moved and could never imagine not seeing me sister for 4 years.This experience has undoubtedly changed my life. My group and I hope to come home and make bags for kids in the foster system just like we did at GAP, along with blessing bags that we will keep in our car to give to the homeless on the streets while we are driving by.