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Potatoes and an Indian Man

Imagine this. You are being driven down the road with classmates next to you talking and chatting away about random topics. Suddenly, you enter a street with people laying on the pavemenn.t. How many are there 10, 20, maybe 30? You see that they have dirty clothes and they appear to not have taken a bath in months. You get out of the parked car and make your way into the building. Along the way you come closer with the people from the street, you watch them, wondering what they are thinking right now, what they are doing, why are they here.

This is how my journey to Phoenix’s Andre House began. Once inside, students immediately stared working on their tasks assigned to them. Being a newcomer to Interact and a first time volunteer for Andre House, I was a little scared. I soon adapted to my surroundings and started to work. I helped dice tomatoes for pico de gallo, sort grapes from their vines, and mix the pico de gallo. I was thenn asked as to what position I wanted to have when the homeless came through the door to eat. I chose to serve fruit. Not knowing what would happen, I put on my gloves and headed for the food line.

When the many people came in and started going into the lines, my hand became clammy, there were tiny beads of sweat along the back of my neck, and my head was so frazzled I could not even think. That soon passed as the people came by and looked happy to be receiving food, even if in small quantity

The smell of the beans and the potatoes filled the air and the aroma of the fruit right next to me was incredible. I could see that on the faces of these people, they felt the same. Many passed by saying thank you as they collected their food and headed to sit at a table. You could almost feel a tear in your heart, but you could not let it be known. This was about them, not you.

One man caught my attention when he came up to the food line. He had a ray of kindness radiating from his skin and had the most unforgettable accent that I will ever hear. He could not contain his humbleness as he received his serving of food. All he wanted was the potatoes. However, the servers had specific portions that they could give to the man because they had to save some for all the others that came. Of course the man could have seconds, and every time he came he asked for nothing else besides the potatoes. When he received his tray he would leave with a smile on his face and the words “Thank you, God bless” coming from his mouth.

When there were no more to feed, the lines closed up and we all helped clean up the tables and floors when the people ate. When I went to go help, there he was, the Indian man with his potatoes thanking everyone for their service. After the tables and floors were clean, my classmates and I left.

As I left Andre House all I could see on the sidewalks were people laying, sitting, or standing there on the cold hard floor. We went on, for yards and they were still there. 30, 50, 100, how many were there now? You could not leave that site without a tear in your eye or a scar in your heart. The image can never be taken away. How did they get there? Why are they there? What happened to lead them to this point in their life? How could I help?

This experience has shown me another side of the world, a side I never thought I would see. I will return to Andre House knowing why they have such a passion for assisting the homeless.





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