Friday the 13th is a day many are weary of due to bad luck. However, that wasn’t the case for a group of individuals who were hungry and in need of a warm meal. They simply had smiles on their faces and expressed gratitude.
St. Vincent’s Dining Room is a program operated by Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada. This non-profit opens its doors (and hearts) daily to members of our community, no questions asked. Their goal is to ensure everyone that walks through the door leaves with something– most of the time that’s a full belly and a little hope.
My day today started out like most people I know— answering emails, finishing projects and day dreaming of the weekend. To be honest, when my calendar alert popped up reminding me to leave to go volunteer I wished I hadn’t agreed to the commitment. It had nothing to do with my desire to volunteer or an attitude of being better than others. It was simply because I didn’t have time, or so I thought. Isn’t that often the excuse we hide behind? If we’re not careful time can be both a liar and a thief.
I volunteered this afternoon with a team from work. I am so thankful to work for Guild Mortgage, a company that places people at the center of its mission. Taking time to give back by helping others isn’t just encouraged; it’s expected. And now I see why.
Our team arrived just before 11:30 and the line was already forming around the building. Individuals of all walks of life filed through the doors—black, white, male, female, young, and old. Some looked weary and tattered, like they had nothing to live for. Others looked like they just needed a boost in their step to get them back on their feet. It would have been easy to keep my head down and focus on the task of serving up each plate rather than making eye contact and engaging in conversation. Sometimes that feels easier than trying to drum up awkward conversation when we don’t quite know what to say. However, these individuals are no different than you or I. They each have a story and are a part of our community. Suddenly I desperately wanted to sit with each of them to listen to their story and to share mine.
Humbled and grateful were two emotions I felt as I reflected on the life I lead in comparison to the many individuals I met today. I was never raised around wealth or fame but consider my life to be rich all things considered. I have a roof over my head, never worry about my next meal and have a family excited to see me every evening. So often we get caught up in the whirlwind of our own needs and fail to remember how much we truly have. The cares of my day suddenly felt trivial.
The true heart and soul behind this wonderful organization are its small team and staff of volunteers. They serve hundreds of people each day, with the exception of Sundays. For many this meal is the only thing they’ll eat all day. St. Vincent’s Dining Room knows this and that’s why volunteers show up day after day. There would be a massive hole in our community if it weren’t for their help in a tangible way.
If you would like to get involved with Catholic Charities of Nevada, please visit their website or call (775) 329-5363. I promise you’ll get more out of it than you give away! I know I sure did. Also, leave me a comment below or send me a tweet with your favorite place to give back!