Andre House

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“Ugh,” I mumble to myself as I near the Andre House, “how on earth did I ever wind up here?” My mind quickly races as I contemplate the sights and odors I will encounter. I have never done community service before, and for the most part, have never been interested in it. Community service would bring upon me a new experience.

Marching past the front entrance, leading to the kitchen, I still wonder how I ended up here. Inside, several older men, each working on a different dish, greet us and seem elated to meet us. The clicking and clattering of the pots and pans created such and unpleasant noise. Standing next to me, one of the men was chopping lemons, and in doing so, filling the room with a sharp citrus smell.

The instructor, a small and much younger gentleman, asks us to wash our hands and wear gloves. He then assigned us all various duties; I receive the task of chopping apples. Chopping a few apples seems like a fairly simple job; however, because the gloves have slickness to them, they created a difficulty when trying to hold the apples down.
However, the worst was yet to come. After finishing the apples, which took longer than expected, the instructor demotes me to chopping onions. Within minutes, my eyes tear up, preventing me from seeing. Eventually, I abandon accuracy and begin wildly hacking the onion to pieces.

As dinner approached, our community service group gathers in prayer. We received new roles and prepare for the homeless to arrive. The instructor assigns me to the role of banging food off of trays.

At first, my job maintains a slow pace. However, as the homeless finish eating, the job picks up. I stand for hours; my legs, aching by this time, nearly give out. Periodically, I run to the front of the building, carrying on or two bags of garbage into the dumpster.

“Thank you” and “God bless,” they often say. I engage in a small conversation with a comedic gentleman. He tells me about how he and his family went through hard times and how much gratitude he has for my service.

At that moment, I realized the less fortunate did not choose to live this life. I came into the Andre House believing the homeless were simply unwilling to work for a better life. I learned they were more than willing, but they had just had some bad luck. From this moment on I no longer thought of the less fortunate as bums, rather needy. They needed my help, and it was my job to help them. The time at the Andre House taught me to treat the less fortunate not as lesser people.

The compliments I received lifted my spirits. Community Service was no longer a chore. I enjoy the good I am doing for the less fortunate.

I leave the Andre House that night eagerly awaiting my next visit.





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