“ I would now ask you all to bow your head, as I will lead in prayer.”
As I walked towards my friends, I saw numerous people, of all ages from like from 15 to 50 years old, volunteering. It made my heart melt. Everyone was so determined to lend a hand in feeding the homeless. The room was dancing with joy. Then there was the laughter. It never stopped until the prayer started.
I went straight to my friends, held their hands, bowed my head, and closed my eyes. The sponsor of Andre House, a Phoenix Soup kitchen, had a miniature Bible. She read a verse that informed us about community service and the importance of aiding others. The verse really inspired me because, since this was the first time I signed up for an Interact activity, the verse was like music to my ears.
We finished the wonderfully, well, written verse. We had one hour of preparation. Because multiple Interact clubs volunteered, from different schools, we each a specific job to work on.
Before our Interact club was assigned to a job I asked my friend “Are you excited?”
She replied saying “ YES!”
My friends were very energetic when it came to trying new things. We are all a little shy but once we get comfortable, we end up going all over the place to talk to everyone.
My friends and I were assigned to make “goody-bags” for people who helped out at Andre House. The bags included a sandwich, fruits, vegetables, of our choice, crackers, a delightful drink, and last but not least, dessert.
After the sponsor completed giving jobs to the rest of the volunteers, she asked us to stay back. She was going to give us a tour of Andre House and where to find the ingredients to make the “goodie-bags”
She first began to take us to the section where all bread loafs and other dry ingredients were. There was all different types of bread like wheat and white (the casual). Moving forward, we walked to the freezer. We found things that needed to be refrigerated. For example, drinks, different fruits, and even yogurt. It was freezing. The tour now came to an end.
We were handed a pair of gloves and bags. My friends and I began to retrieve our materials that we would utilize. We returned to a table in a room which resembled a school cafeteria. Sandwiches were finished first, then the snacks and desserts and finally the drink. We determined to finish the “goody-bags” and everyone was summoned to the room with the painted art on the walls. There were all kinds of bible verses painted on the walls and clearly the Andre House logo.
The sponsor retrieved everyone and began to declare jobs, since preparation was over. There were multiple jobs that needed to be assigned. There were jobs like washing dishes, refilling the foods down the serving line when there were becoming empty, serving water, and some even conversated with the unfortunate. My friends and I were allocated to serving line 1, there were 2 in total; this task is basically serving proportionalized items for the unfortunate to eat. For example, I served salsa, others served fruit, beans, rice and meat.
As all jobs were assigned, she yelled, “15 more minutes till we serve !” I heard.
We, as in all volunteers, went to our station to set up. I felt like a lunch lady because I had to wear a hair net, I had to serve people food, and also because I was behind a long metal table, where I was on one side and the other side was the homeless; just like the cafeteria ladies at my school and even Subway. As soon as I got my bucket of salsa, older volunteers taught us how to portion each scoop and a couple rules. For example, do not give them extra scoops, just tell them to wait for seconds. The sponsor did a practice run. So she went down the line, with her plate, and went to each part of the serving line to see if we were serving to much or less.
“One more minute till we serve” I heard.
My pulse began to rise. I was thankful that one of my friends was right next to me, serving strawberries.
A minute has passed and I see the first person walk in. I continually gazed at him, watching him casually go down the cafeteria line, until he makes it to me.
“Would you like some salsa, sir?” I said with an energetic voice.
“I sure do ma'am !” with an enormous smile on his face.
“Here you go, enjoy!”
“God bless you, Marina,” as he reads my name tag.
At that point I could not help but smile. I was excited for the many more people to come. My mind was at eased and I felt satisfied.
A little later in the afternoon, I yelled “ Line 1, Salsa !” That meant I needed a refill for the salsa; this happened because many of the homeless wanted seconds. I did not mind serving, even though my feet were starting to hurt. I was hurting on the outside but on the inside, I was happier than ever because I loved conversing with the homeless whilst serving them.
Once the volunteer refilled my salsa, I was back serving.
It was now coming to an end and throughout most of the people that went down the line, I saw huge smiles. When they were eating, I thought to myself, how can someone be so happy with what life has given them. Not even a home and three meals a day are given to them. I began to compare my life and thoughts to theirs. I noticed that compared to them, I am not as grateful as I should be. From that point on, I immediately began to be more thankful because I do have so much to lose.
Once the less fortunate finished eating and left, the volunteers and I had to clean up and reflect. I overall, enjoyed my experience at Andre House and I can not wait to go again.