For many of us, the homeless are just people we see on the Corner, the people with cardboard signs we try our very best to ignore. For Madeline Kotoriy, however, the homeless of Charlottesville are her guests.
Kotoriy volunteers at the Haven, a day shelter outside of the Downtown mall which provides its guests with meals, shelter, and a variety of services.
“I think much of what motivated me to get involved with the Haven homeless shelter was the opportunity to make really meaningful connections with people in the greater Charlottesville community,” said Kotoriy. “Like most things in life, volunteering at the Haven is what you make of it, and what makes it so worthwhile for me is getting to know some of the guests at a more personal level.”
Kotoriy has worked the welcome desk for three semesters, originally walking almost half an hour from her dorm in order to work the morning shift. The experience has changed the way she views the world, and she can often be seen hanging out with the homeless on the Corner.
“I have definitely learned a lot from talking to the guests and other volunteers there, and I am always really happy when a guest I have encountered several times starts recognizing and remembering me,” said Kotoriy. “ Getting to know and understand people that go through life in a different way is a very humbling and unique experience, and I would definitely encourage everyone to try it. It changes a lot about how you see the world.”