"I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know - the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve."
- Albert Schweitzer
Being able to serve and help others is most rewarding. Volunteering in a soup kitchen has opened my eyes to what the real world really is. Most of the people who go to soup kitchens need everyday things that we sometimes take for granted like meals, showers, warm clothes, and someone who cares about us. It's very rewarding to hear a warm "Thank you," accompanied by a comforting smile because you have done something as simple as serving them a plate of food or a cup of lemon tea or orange juice.
It's amazing that few requirements are necessary to work in a soup kitchen, yet the rewards are endless. The desire to serve and the virtue of caring about others and knowing that regardless of a person's status, everyone is equal and should be treated that way, are the most appreciated and important qualities. The task of serving the food can be learned and perfected. Getting attached to the people you serve and work with is inevitable. It's almost impossible to forget the children. While you are serving them juice, you wonder about their future, what will become of them? You often wonder if the older people have family members who are out there searching for them, and where they spend their days and nights.
Volunteering in a soup kitchen is not just another community service, it's a reality check. You are welcomed into a world that, because of luck, is unfamiliar to you. In a soup kitchen you are helping both other people and yourself by giving their lives and yours a little more meaning. fl
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.