Lucky Penny

By Allie

Yesterday at the safe haven for men with multiple disabilities where I intern, I was given the task of taking a picture of each gentleman that lives there.  We needed updated pictures for their files, so I set about to photograph each and every one of them.  I was excited about this task; I thought it would be a fun way to engage each gentleman.

Of course, some of the residents were less than thrilled about having their pictures taken.  A few of them cursed at me, others flat-out refused, and a few got extremely anxious and worked up.  I reassured them and coaxed them, and nearly all agreed to it in the end.

 And it was fun!  I tried to capture the residents as they are; the grumpy ones looked grumpy.  The confused ones looked confused.  And the happy ones had great big grins.  Seeing the pictures as they came off the printer was incredibly heartwarming; to see their smiles, their smirks, their faces captured just as they are.  My eyes welled up.

More than seeing the pictures though, the few minutes I got to spend with each resident, connecting and sharing, was even more important to me.  All I could think about was how three months ago, I didn’t know any of these men’s names.  I didn’t know their stories, their daily struggles, their victories.  I didn’t know their special quirks, what made them smile, or what made them sad.  And now I do.  These 40 men are my friends.  I care about them, and they care about me. 

I’m starting to feel really sad about leaving.  Even though some days I walk away feeling frustrated and exhausted, I love that place.  I feel more at home there than I do in my apartment.  The men make me smile every single day.  As excited as I am to go home, I know that I will carry them in my heart for years to come.

Yesterday as I was leaving, one of the residents gave me a lucky penny he had found on the sidewalk.  I got so warm and tingly inside.  He told me to carry it with me and something good would happen. 

But he was wrong, something good already has happened.

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About The Philadelphia Center

The Philadelphia Center offers undergraduate students the opportunity to thrive through experiential education with PHL:EXP, the Philly Off-Campus Experience. Each term we help students secure professional, accredited internships and independent housing throughout the vibrant and diverse city of Philadelphia. Students explore career paths through real-world applications and rigorous, seminar-style courses. We provide our students with the opportunity to gain independence while learning in a safe and supportive environment. Our students leave Philadelphia with a strong sense of their abilities, social and professional aspirations, and a plan for their future.

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