Recently the homegroup that my girlfriend and i are a part of, took a trip down to The Poverello House. It’s a local organization here in Fresno, CA that helps the hungry and homeless. The member of our group who organized the trip was unable to head down there with us, due to her work schedule, and asked for our feedback from the experience. I wanted to share my girlfriend, Jen’s thoughts and response.
First of all, thank you so much for coordinating this opportunity! It was a lot of fun and made me really happy to be able to serve others.
Everything went really smoothly and we were kept together as a group, which, for people who haven’t volunteered at a place like PH before, is nice.
We started off the morning putting grocery bags of food together for the Community Food Bank. While they have a list of things they want in each bag, there’s room for extra things like cereal, trail mix, granola bars, cookies, etc. The nutrition-obsessed part of me was grimacing at some of the options, but then smiling when I came across a can of vegetarian beans, organic soup or veggies. While putting these bags together, I realized that the objective is just to get as many nutrients to these folks as possible, because who knows what food choices they’ll have once the food in the bag runs out. Something really huge occurred to me, too…not everyone has the luxury to choose to be vegetarian or vegan. So I stopped making faces whenever I came across a can of meat somethingorother, and even included a few in the bags I was putting together.
After that we moved into chopping up veggies for that evening’s dinner service, which was actually pretty fun. Lots of people and activity going on in that prep area! Poverello House really wouldn’t be able to do everything they do without volunteers. People who volunteer as a part of their church, individuals just wanting to make a difference, and even a couple with a baby in a carrier on the husbands back! It was really cool to see everyone working together.
With the veggies chopped and the kitchen equipment wiped off, we moved into the dining room to prepare for lunch service. We would be serving tostadas and nachos. Everyone was given an ingredient to serve or a service to provide, we prayed and lunch was served. Clients (I love that PH calls the people they help ‘clients’ instead of ‘the homeless’ or something less dignifying) were given a bag of packaged food as they came through the doors (I think they were giving ravioli’s that day) to have for dinner, as PH doesn’t serve dinner on Saturdays or Sundays. Many people came through the line, most were very polite and kind. One man thanked us for helping out and said we were doing a great job. There were couples, friends, men in suits, a man wearing a bluetooth, a mother with her two children and many others who came through the doors. Some who may have never thought they’d be in the situation they’re in, but were grateful for a place like Poverello House, because people just need a little help sometimes. It was humbling to realize that I could be any of those people…and so could Jesus.
It’s not our place to judge those who ask for or take help, whether they’re wearing a suit or a bluetooth, drive a nice car or have no material possessions at all. Suffering isn’t exclusive, we all could be put into circumstances which could lead to homelessness or hunger. It would probably take a lot of courage to admit that we need help, just as I’m sure it does for people who are homeless and hungry everywhere.
It was an honor to be able to serve the clients of PH, and a blessing to see that even in circumstances such as the ones they’ve found themselves in, joy and thankfulness could be seen in a lot of their faces.
Thanks again for this opportunity, can’t wait for the next one!
It was truly an amazing and humbling experience! Just a group of people helping out another group of people… sharing some time and some smiles.