320

22 Aug

DAY 1 : VOLUNTEER

Yesterday was one of the best days of my 29th year. I was humbled and inspired by the human spirit. My heart was so was so filled with emotion, I thought it was going to burst. This experience left me with a change in perspective and very grateful for my life. I will be going back many many many Sundays.

When starting 365 til 30, I knew I wanted to work with the homeless for my volunteer goal but had no organization in mind. Last week I was on the internet and stumbled upon Food On Foot and from what I saw on the site, signed up to volunteer.

For the last 807 Sundays, Food On Foot founder, Jay Goldinger and a small group of volunteers have been feeding LA’s homeless, which is a beautiful thing on its own but  he takes it one step further. He created a program called The Work For Food Program, which gives the homeless the opportunity to sweep the streets every Sunday morning to earn extra food cards. After working for ten consecutive weeks they graduate to the next level. Over the course of a year of hard work they gain the opportunity to get help with medical and dental problems and even see a 3,000 bank account opened in their name while being provided with safe housing and help getting a real job. How amazing is that?

Jay requires something else from everyone in the program. He demands that they complete a random act of kindness each week. A simple reminder that a human beings true worth isn’t ever money but instead what we do for others. To witness people who have so little do this is inspiring.

I was also given the opportunity to hear the stories of two Work For Food graduates. They shared how they ended up on the streets, what it was like for them, how they found the program and what it did for them. They also shared what their lives looked like now. When they got to this part their smiles shined bright. They pulled themselves out from the lowest depths and earned their dignity back. I was so moved by their bravery, attitude, honesty and grace that I felt a little shaken.

After hearing their stories it was time to do what we had come to do and feed the 500 men, woman and children waiting for a meal. Each volunteer was given a job on the food line- mine was passing out Quaker Oat bars. We were told to make an effort to interact with each person considering they don’t get the opportunity to do so very often.  So with each person I handed an oat bar to I made a point to look at them straight in the eye and with as much love as I could offer. Every single one of them smiled back, read my name tag and said “Thank you, Kate”. Those 3 very simple words had never meant so much  or held as much weight.

I am beyond grateful I took the opportunity to contribute to Food On Foot, even in a small way. Even if it was just a smile. I hope in the next year I am lucky enough to witness many of these beautiful souls find their way back to the lives they desire. Because, who doesn’t deserve that?

As the volunteers were packing up the founder Jay left us with this Italian Proverb…

“At the end of the game, The King and The Pawn go back in the same box.”

©

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5 Responses to “320”

  1. rdgranados August 22, 2011 at 4:57 pm #

    Beautiful Katie! This made my day!

  2. markmcclafferty.spellboundpictures August 22, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

    Absolutely stunning account, Kate. Beautifully done!!! Pamela

  3. irv dwork August 23, 2011 at 11:43 am #

    an amazing organization….and your new and continuing contribution as a volunteer will be a great reward…..love you…irv

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 316 « 365 til 30 - August 26, 2011

    […] Volunteering for Food On Foot […]

  2. 305 « 365 til 30 - September 6, 2011

    […] the wrong name because I was too thrilled that he actually knew my blog! He stumbled upon it when I first wrote about my experience volunteering for them. The moment got even sweeter when he said he […]

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