Many people use the excuse that they don't have any extra money, to sit back and do nothing for those in need.
News flash you don't need money in order to help them, all you need is your time! Volunteer work is very important to me, because it makes me feel a part of something bigger then myself. There are so many ways to help, just by volunteering your time within your community. All you have to do is make the time for it, which is easy to do if your determined to help! I happen to have a random day off this week that landed on a Thursday, so I decided to put my free time to good use! I volunteered at a local facility called Trinity Cafe, that has been apart of the Tampa bay area since 2001.They have served over 1,106,852 three course meals for the homeless community in this region. They are an outstanding institution, that truly sets them self apart from other organizations. How are they different you may ask? See the top FIVE reasons listed below!
1)They expect nothing in return
When you go to other places similar to this, more often then not they require you to do something in return in order to eat. Such as attend a mandatory counseling session, which can be helpful however you can't help someone that does not want to be help. Sometimes they have you attend religious services in order to receive nutrition as well.Which is not fair if you ask me. You shouldn't have to do anything in order to receive a well balanced meal.Which is one of the wonderful things about Trinity Cafe, there are no requirements or questions asked. This organization embraces individuals from all walks of life. With one thing in common, their need for a good meal.
2) Nourish the soul
You may think that the only service they are providing is feeding those in need.Yet they do so much more.... They offer a place where those less fortunate are treated with respect. They strive to create a positive change in someone life! Their main goal is to restore a sense of dignity to the homeless and hungry, while nurturing them inside and out. They achieve this by providing every guest with kindness and a well balanced meal! While they get served they also have a host at the table, talking to them and helping them break out of their shells. Lots of these individuals normally keep to themselves, therefore this environment presents a chance for them to interact with others as well.
3)The service is one of a kind
When you walk in to trinity cafe you can immediately tell they are different from your average "soup kitchen".
They provide a restaurant experience for their guests, starting with having the meals cooked by a professional chef.
The meal is a three course meal starting with a soup or salad, main course, then dessert. The tables are cloth covered, with china dishes and silverware. They sit down, and you have one person that acts as the "host" at the table and connects with the guest on a deeper level.While another volunteer is the waitress and serves the tables, throughout this whole process no one is rushing you. Those in need of a good meal are able to sit down, and truly just enjoy their meal.
4)Different volunteer opportunities
We should all take more time out of our lives to help those around us, especially those from our own communities. There are more then one way to offer your help, to those around you. From being a waitress or host, to helping the chef or cleaning tables. They equally need volunteers to help on neighborhood clean up days picking up trash.They provide every volunteer a meal for their time, which you can accept or deny. I was not planning on eating myself, but I'm glad they convinced me to it was delicious! This also gives those less fortunate that do want to contribute for their meals, a chance to do so while gaining some work experience. I myself had never worked as a server before, and now I can say I have! Turns out I was quite good at it. This helps less fortunate volunteers that are in need of employment, a chance to acquire job skills and on the job training.
5) There is no rush
Bill the lead volunteer informed us of this from the very start! It does not matter if they sit an hour, or if they eat and leave in 5 mins! They are welcomed to stay as little or as long as they would like to.They are even encourage to grab a book, stay while they read or interact with others. Its a family style dining table, filled with people all around for them to connect with. Sometimes the conversation is to good to get up.. let them enjoy themselves. This is a restaurant environment after all, therefore you are free to leave when you please.
Volunteering there was such a magical experience, surrounded by many individuals that care about making their community a better place. Before everyone started coming in we all held hands in a circle, and said a prayer. They made sure to let us know, that this cafe would not thrive without volunteers like ourselves. Did you know that one in every 6 person in our region does not know when their next meal will be? I was sadden by the amounts of kids, that walked thru the door. One little boy especially touched my heart. He was waiting in line with his dad,and they still had lots of people still ahead of them. I went over to the dessert station grabbed a freshly made cookie, for him to eat while they waited in line. The smile he thanked me with, filled my heart with joy. He was such a tiny little guy, he reminded me of my little boys.It makes my heart ache to know that many children don't eat between Friday school lunch, until Mondays breakfast at school! I encourage you all to find places in your community as wonderful as Trinity cafe! Time spent serving others.....Is time well served after all!