My recent few trips to Bethesda Project for my semester long projects were ones that I will never forget. Given the stories of the men who spend their time there, it makes me appreciate and reminds me to be thankful for all that I have in my life. This facility changes the lives of many men in many positive ways, and the atmosphere is similar to a large home where men can take part in various activities to stay busy and interact with one another. The social justice mission plays a role in the lives of all of the men who live there as well as the staff who work there, and this is clear in the stories I was told regarding how many of the men came to find a passion for religion and have taken advantage of all that the organization has to offer to make their lives better.
My field notes capture several in-depth observations, including the chicken sandwiches and beans that were offered, the kitchen that all of the food is consumed in, which is also the game area. Many clothes were just sitting around the facility and the same is true with towels as well. People were playing all sorts of games including monopoly, cards, and the game of life. The walls in the facility are all different colors, primarily yellow, blue, and black. Stairs, couches and chairs, a large bookshelf full of many different kinds of books and magazines take up most of the first floor and there are many office areas right next to the cafeteria area as well. Outside of the facility, there is an area for people to hang out and socialize that is protected by a fence, a road bridge that goes directly over the facility. Many plants surround the facility as well and the outside is covered in yellow paint with a large blue door. The Bethesda Project building is connected to another small business right next door. Inside the facility, there are many different drink options for the residents to enjoy. These include chocolate milk, water, soda, vending machines. All of these are in the game table area.
I also focused on the outside of the facility as well as the surrounding community as well. Outside the facility, there are bushes, bikes, a small sidewalk, a street, and water fountains as well. Back inside the facility, some additional observations that I noticed when I returned include a nice waiting area with security clearances, tile floors, and small offices. Most importantly, there is a variety of music being played throughout the facility for the enjoyment of the residents.
This experience was very successful, and it was excellent practice for looking at a facility as well as a lifestyle in close detail. I can’t say that I would have done anything differently, but I do wish that I could have talked to more staff members and more residents. All of the readings and class lectures of field notes served as examples to me when carrying out these trips, and I am happy that I had such great references. I will use these notes as reflections of my experience as I move forward with the editing and final parts of the project.