I have said it before and I will say it again: one of the best, most sustainable, ways to change the world is through relationships. When you serve somebody that you consider a friend, you recognize the mutuality of the relationship. You are not just helping them, but they are helping you, because we are all very similar. The reason I say this now is because it is very important to keep in mind if you choose to change the world through serving at a soup kitchen. This helps stop hunger within your own community and is a very effective way to change the world.
Virtually every community (in my opinion) has a soup kitchen, or something of the sort. So, after you decide to volunteer at one, make sure the place you decide to go is financially accountable and feeding people that need it (check out these tips at Charity Navigator).
Here are some elements of volunteering at a soup kitchen that I believe are necessary for you to make a lasting change.
1. Be Consistent
A lot of people have had an experience at a soup kitchen through a group project. However, although this is good, I want to encourage you to be consistent if you choose to do this. Whether you can commit to once a week, once a month, or once every two months, be certain that they can count on you time and time again.
2. Be a friend
Notice how I did not just say “be friendly”. Recognize the people you are serving as people. Speak to them like you would anyone else. We have no idea what brings each person to the point that we meet them at. So, do not look down on anyone, be respectful and demand respect.
3. Be versatile
You might not end up in a serving line or life-changing conversation. Maybe, they really need you to wash dishes or sweep floors. No matter what, though, you are fighting hunger in your community. Be joyful and use that opportunity to serve the other volunteers and staff with your good attitude.
4. Don’t expect Gratitude
I am not saying you won’t get it. However, many of the people that work at a soup kitchen are there all day, every day, they might get paid a little, or not at all. If you volunteer at a soup kitchen, let me tell you, THANK YOU! However, you are not their knight-in-shining-armor, so don’t be surprised if they aren’t excited that you are there at first. Give them reason to be excited for the next time you come. I’d be lying if I wasn’t surprised by this the first time I volunteered at a soup kitchen (for a group project).
Thanks for reading and PLEASE consider changing the world in this way.
Have you ever volunteered at a soup kitchen? What advice would you give to someone volunteering for the first time?