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Post-Activity Reflection Assignment: The Doorways

Elizabeth Blanton

Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing

Instructor Angel Daniels, MSN, RN, CCM

NURS 4215

November 18, 2016, 2016

Honor Code I pledge


Post-Activity Reflection Assignment: The Doorways

1. Noticing: Provide some background information about what you will discuss here

what is the story? What did I observe? What did I see & hear? What did I do?

What expectations were met or not met? (15)

For the service learning activity, I volunteered at The Doorways. This organization hosts

families and patients who need a place to stay in Richmond, or close to the hospital, when a

loved one is sick. The organization provides bedrooms with bathrooms, meals, access to a

kitchen, library, play areas and general support for families (The Doorways, 2016). I

volunteered up to assist with dinner, which involved making a portion of the dinner for the

night, serving families, and engaging with or playing with children staying at The Doorways.

HandsOn Greater Richmond is the organization through which I volunteered. HandsOn

coordinates volunteer opportunities for local community members. They help link those who

are in need of services with those who would like to help (HandsOn, 2016). During my

experience at The Doorways, I was unable to stay and interact with families the first night I

volunteered, but I was able to drop off a meal. The second night I volunteered, I was able to

bring a portion of the meal and stay to serve the meal and interact with families.

Approximately ten people volunteered to bring food and serve dinner the second night I

volunteered. The meals were homemade and offered a variety of selections, including

barbeque, baked beans, chicken, salad, macaroni and cheese, green beans, deserts and drinks.

There were approximately 40 people staying at The Doorways who came for dinner that

night. The Doorways provided shuttles running back and forth from different local hospitals,

so waves of people came throughout the evening. Dinner was served at 6:30pm, but shuttles

ran until after 7:15pm. Volunteers prepared the meal, created a buffet table with all of the

selections, and served families. Some volunteers visited with families while they ate, and

other volunteers brought refills for drinks or food. After the meal, the volunteers cleaned the

kitchen and placed leftover food in the refrigerator for families.

I expected to interact with the families more than I did, but as I was serving the food, I

was kept busy at the buffet. I could observe the families and have brief interactions. The

volunteer coordinator gave volunteers an overview of The Doorways and described some of

the families staying there before we began serving dinner. One of the families had been

staying at The Doorways since last Thanksgiving. The patient was burned at his job site, and

his brother and sister had been taking turns staying with him as he healed. After he was

discharged from the hospital, he was required to stay in Richmond while he completed his

treatment. The Doorways provided him with a room and allowed his family to stay as well.

Volunteers from HandsOn who had served dinner previously had gotten to know this family

well and recognize many of the other families present.

2. Interpreting: How do my values and experiences as part of a certain cultural, racial,

ethnic, religious group, socioeconomic status group, etc, shape what I see and hear?

What problems did I see? What assets/ solutions to problems did I see? (10)

There were a variety of races and ages represented at The Doorways. Children and adults

were patients, and some patients had their entire family present, while others had only one

family member with them. Based on brief interactions and observations, the patients seemed

to be in the lower to middle socio-economic class. I noticed many families interacting with

one another and sharing their stories. They offered each other support and reassurance. The

racial and socio-economic diversity I saw at The Doorways was what I had expected.

Having cared for patients in the pediatrics unit at VCU Health System, I had somewhat of an

understanding of the patient population. What I did not expect to see was families who had

stayed at The Doorways for almost a year. Severe illnesses or injury truly are a family

emergency and can adversely affect a family in so many ways, both financially and


One problem that I observed was the presence of roaches in the kitchen. The kitchen was

stocked with pots and pans, so we made sure to wash anything we used before cooking with

them. The volunteer coordinator alerted the staff at The Doorways. We also noticed that the

kitchen was not fully stocked for families. There were no working can openers and there

were not enough pots and pans to meet the needs of families. I overheard volunteers who

had participated before state that they had brought multiple can openers in the past, but they

never stayed in the kitchen.

3. Responding: What have I learned about the needs of this community? What gifts did I

offer? What gifts did I learn? What else do I need to learn to best meet the needs of this

population in the future? (15)

This community needs each other as much as it needs help from the outside community.

Many of these families have gotten to know each other and spoke to one another about their

experiences in the hospital. I saw several individuals and families eating meals together and

talking together throughout the evening. These families need a roof over their heads, food to

strengthen them, and the support of each other and the volunteers. A hot, homemade meal

makes a big difference at the end of a long day in the hospital for many of these families.

Also knowing that there are people who want to help them makes a difference as well. I

would imagine being in an unfamiliar town during a family crisis would be more

overwhelming than I can imagine, but having so many people volunteer their time to help

would be reassuring.

The gift I was able to bring was a hot meal and my presence, letting the families know

that there are people in their world who care for them and recognize the struggle they are

enduring. The gift I received was a reminder of how dependent we all are on one another,

even on people we do not know. Communities need to support one another, show

compassion, and have a purposeful intention in seeking out ways to help others. It was also a

good reminder that we all need help sometimes, and asking for help, however difficult it may

be, is important.

4. Reflecting: How has this service-learning activity influenced my academic life? How has

this service-learning experience affected my personal life? Has this experience changed

my ideas of or approaches to interacting with people? (10)

This service-learning activity influenced my academic life in helping me recognize the

importance of continuing education to keep my practice current. A vulnerable population

class and service learning activities are good ways to give nurses perspective on the lives of

the patients for which they care. It provides a holistic view of a patient and allows the nurse

to better understand how to best meet the needs of patients. The experience has influenced

my personal life by reminding me that I need to work on being a part of my community, and

finding ways to serve others. There are so many people that could use help, and we may not

see these needs if we are not actively searching out ways to serve. This service learning

opportunity was also a reminder to count the blessings in your own life and appreciate the

good health we enjoy. It also reminded me to have a positive outlook on life and look for joy

even when times are difficult. There was a young Hispanic couple with two children under

the age of 5, who both had severe cleft palates, the most severe Ive ever seen, despite having

worked in pediatrics at VCU Health System. This couple was laughing together the entire

time they were in the dining room. They appeared to have such great attitudes and were able

to find laughter despite the significant challenges they were facing. They were an inspiration

in making the best of a bad situation and finding hope when all hope may seem lost. Their

laughter was uplifting in the dining room and visibly brought smiles to other families and



HandsOn Greater Richmond. (2016). Retrieved from

The Doorways. (2016) Retrieved from