Soup Kitchen Blessings

February 10, 2012
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My heart was dancing an overly fast-paced tango when I prepared myself to walk into a room filled with cheerful and eager volunteers. It was my very first time volunteering at Andre House, a soup kitchen in Phoenix, and my nerves were on edge. I had no idea what to expect or prepare for. My mom always told me to stay away from the homeless because they were horrible people who kidnapped kids, but I discovered that that common misconception by overprotective parents is false.

I started off with just cutting up fruits for the fruit salad. However, when dinner was about to start, I was assigned to a job that required for me to intermingle with the crowd. I was terrified! My new job was to refill water cups for the diners. I never actually talked to someone homeless before, and it scared me to death when it came to approaching them.

Of course, when I actually started to wander around the dining room with my pitcher, I realized that I had nothing to be afraid of. I noticed that the diners either kept to themselves or chatted in quiet civilized voices. No one was being disruptive or rude like most prejudice people would describe the less fortunate as. Some even went out of their way during their dinner to thank the volunteers for their services.

One man, especially, was tremendously thoughtful and kind. He was the first person that night to have a conversation with me. We talked a bit about how my day was and his situation which was a heartfelt story. He was telling me about how he does not have a home because he had lost his job due to the economic downturn, and he has been living like this for two years. After talking with him for a few minutes, I refilled his drink and started to make my rounds again with the water pitcher, but he called me back. He first thanked me and told me how he appreciated that we prepared the dinner today, and in the end, he blessed me. He struck such a strong impression on me that I did not feel scared after that; I just felt at peace somehow. My view on the homeless also changed; I no longer believed that all homeless people were bad; most were grateful, sincere, and kindhearted people. I finally learned that there wasn’t anything to be afraid of, and I plan to advantage of that.

Now that I am more comfortable with talking to the homeless, I have been going back to Andre House several times a month to do some volunteering. I plan to do so for a long time after this as well, for this has had opened my eyes to our society’s helpless. This will not only comfort the unfortunate, but it makes me content and accomplished as well because I know I helped make someone’s night. And the grateful blessings will keep me coming back to Andre House again and again.

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