How I got to this story is a blog meant for another time. While this occasion remains fresh, I want to document this as honestly as possible, omitting personal details when necessary.
(For my personal thoughts on this experience, please wait on the follow up posts to this blog.)
I want to point out that what I’m covering is a sentence of Community LABOR, not Community Service. They are, enjoyably (sarcasm), two different things.
When I started this, I was unable to find anything online that could tell me what horrors, if any, I was in for. I was only able to find government websites that had the most minimal information on what it was, but not what it entailed and how you get it all done.
There was frustratingly no information on what you’ll experience, so I decided to journal on this, for myself and others. Everyone has a different experience, but I’m hoping it will help someone, somewhere.
1) I’ll start at the end of the beginning: sentencing.
Once you receive this in court, you will need to wait in the court room until the person who fills out the paper work hands you a sheet that details which court houses you can apply at for Community Labor, how many hours you’re sentenced, etc.
2) Getting yourself a “volunteer” assignment:
We all know this is no “volunteer” assignment, but that’s a debate for another time. Go to the courthouse of your choice. (Hint: try to choose the least busiest one and you may end up with the least grouchiest clerk.) They will assign you to a location for your service. If you’re lucky, they will give you a choice.
**Note: You WILL be required to pay to do this volunteer service, depending on the hours you’re required to serve. The more hours, the higher the cost.
You’ll be handed paperwork of your assignment. Hold on to this, you’ll need to bring it to your service on your first day.
3) Serving your Community Labor:
Community labor tends to start very early. For myself, I would wake up at 4am to arrive by 530-545am. Work starts at 6am, on the dot. You’ll need to sign in before hand. Show up early as some locations have a limited number of volunteers they can accept each day. You don’t wanna have woken up just to be turned away.
At my location, there was an option to do a half day. A full day is 8 hours, half day would be 4 hours. This may not be the case everywhere, I don’t know.
You get a morning break, lunch break, and an afternoon break. For us, this was taken as a group at very specific, assigned times.
At the end of the day, make sure you wait and sign out. If you don’t both sign IN and OUT, it’s as if you weren’t there. It’s your responsibility to make sure you do this.
a) Your paperwork will tell you that you need work boots/shoes in some verbiage. Make sure you get these. You can get turned away for not having those on.
b) Wear a shirt with sleeves. This is not a time to get cute, in case you have a supervisor that’s really strict. Try to keep skin showing as minimal as possible. I wore a white cotton v-neck short sleeve tee, sports bra, jeans, and the work boots (with socks, of course).
c) Pack a lunch that doesn’t require refrigeration and icy cold drinks (especially in the summer). Use a comfortable bag that you can carry with you everywhere. There’s a chance you could end up being assigned to an isolated area without a chance to grab some food or drink. The employees who supervise you will be your only ride. Be prepared in case they leave you behind to do the work.
Lucky for me, this was not the case for us. Our supervisors drove us to stops at convenience stores and fast food joints for our breaks.
**What days you show up to your service is entirely up to you. Just make sure you get the required amount of hours done before your due date. No one is going to follow up with you on this, so keep track of your days. On your very last day, you’ll need to notify the supervisor who will need to sign off on your paperwork and return it to you. Do not lose this paperwork because it’s the only proof you have. You’ll need to give this back to the clerk at the courthouse as proof. What happens after that depends on your case. For some, that’s where it ends. For others, they are required to go back to court at a later date.
Some last thoughts:
This is labor: you will do manual labor, you will get dirty, you may even smell by the end of the day and not just by your own sweat. Ladies… It’s probably not the best time to get your nails done.