And I Miss It Like Crazy

I've always done lots of volunteer work, but one of my favorite experiences was working as a volunteer in the kitchen at  shelter for homeless people in Massachusetts. I volunteered there for about two years. The kitchen manager was a good friend of both mine and my partner, and we started volunteering there just to help out occasionally. The shelter served anywhere from 50 to 150 people, three meals a day. And more at holidays, at the end of the month (when money and food stamps were all gone), and during bad weather--especially during the New England winters. Soon we were helping with at least one meal a day: my partner would help our friend cook--sometimes I would help too, although I'm not really the cooking type (LOL!!)--and usually I made the drinks, set up the dining room, furnished everything the people would need for their meals, and help serve. I actually got to be known as "Tong Lady" there, a reference to the long handled tongs I used to serve people rolls from a basket. I loved all of it. The best part was getting to know the people who lived in the shelter, as well as those who lived elsewhere and visited for meals. I watched elderly people timidly wait at the end of the line, and the younger people urge them to go first. Every day, I got to pack up meals to go for an elderly disabled gentleman to take home to his wife, who was totally housebound. I saw couples meet, fall in love, marry, and have babies. I watched young people studying for exams in the dining room during off-hours: then I got to hear about their graduations, their first jobs, and eventually say good bye to them as they moved into their first apartments. Unfortunately, I also saw drug addicts taken away in ambulances,  fistfights between desperate people that had to be broken up by the police, and many nice people who would fall through the cracks and deteriorate until one day, they would just disappear and nobody would ever know where they went.

One thing my partner and I did every time we helped with lunch or dinner was to go to the store on our way in and buy enough fresh vegetables to make sure everyone got a fresh, green salad with their meal. People would start lining up at the salad table as soon as they saw us come in, because these were usually the only fresh vegetables the guests at the shelter ever saw. There was plenty of fresh fruit, but never any fresh veggies other than the ones we provided.

I loved working there. I love where I live now, but I haven't found another situation like this one yet. I hope to find another one this year.

sugarfooties sugarfooties
2 Responses Feb 15, 2010

Thank you, tilly--as always, your sweet words bring sunshine to my day!

I am really moved by this experience, and I can't help but wish there were more like you in this hurting world. I admire you so. With a heart like yours, I'm sure God will guide you to a place where your kindness will reach those who so dearly need it.<br />
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My best to you today. <br />
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