Someone once criticized our efforts at the soup kitchen, saying we were just doing it to make ourselves feel good. Well, that’s true – in a way we are doing it so that we feel good about ourselves. But if feeling good about ourselves can help others regain their self-respect and dignity, isn’t that a win-win situation?
In this time of economic turmoil, we’ve noticed that the queues are becoming longer. While our “regulars” still show up for a meal and a chat (the latter being just as important as the former), we’ve noticed that more single parents are coming with their children.
A few weeks ago, a single mother came with her three children, all under the age of nine. Just by looking at her, we could tell she’d had a very rough life lately, but she didn’t let that get her down. Her dignity, grace, and strength were amazing to see as she gathered her children around and sat down for a meal. Marian thanked us all with a quiet smile and made sure her children said “please” and “thank you.” She was obviously in need of food and clothing for herself and her children, and we were glad that we could help out on both fronts. In addition, someone had recently donated some toys, games and books to us, so we were able to pass them on to this family as well.
After the meal, a few of us sat down and chatted with Marian for a while as other volunteers played with her children. Just a few months ago, her husband had a well-paid job and they were living in a rented apartment. Then he lost his job, started drinking and gambling, and couldn’t pay the rent. Having lost his pride and ability to care for his family, he couldn’t bear to face his wife and children, so he left – and Marian hasn’t seen him since.
One of our volunteers, who owns a catering company, overheard our conversation and asked the woman to contact her about a possible job. Since that day, I’ve learned that Marian has indeed found work with the catering company and another volunteer has offered to have her and her children stay in their basement until she gets back on her feet.
It’s a relief and a comfort to know that Marian is managing to start over again and provide for herself and her children, thanks to the generosity of so many people. But many others continue to struggle, so wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all do our bit – big or small – to help out?
[tags]helping out, generosity, volunteering, soup kitchen[/tags]