In the summer of 2005, I went on a community service trip to St. Louis, Missouri. I had gone on a similar trip the summer before to Chicago, and I would be going to one the summer after to New York City. I enjoyed all three very much, but for very different reasons. St. Louis was enjoyable because it changed my outlook on life.
The other trips were very tourism-orientated, especially New York. We would work for a little bit in the community, then go sightseeing and enjoy the city. St. Louis was different, in the aspect that there really wasn't much to see. The city is terribly run-down, with a top-three crime rate in the nation, and an unemployment rate that is annually battling for the top spot. We would drive by houses and I would wonder, "Do people really live there?" Then I would see someone walk out the front door of the boarded-up shack that they call home.
I got a little closer look at St. Louis' problems during my daily work. The first day, I worked at a clothing and food bank that was dirty and understaffed. Homeless people were lined up out the door, doing drugs on the steps or urinating in the street. The situation in St. Louis at this point looked pitiful, but not until later on in the week did it look truly hopeless.
The third day I worked at a summer kid's program. Kids would come for the day and hang out at a gymnasium/pool/activities room to pass the time. When I first walked in, I saw a place just like any other YMCA I had ever been to for summer camp, or recreation center I visited to shoot hoops. But not until I stayed for a while did...