Monday, August 22, 2011

Who is Charity For Anyway?

Is there such a thing as a "happy" Monday?!  I am, however, happy to say that I had a nice, productive and positive weekend; as usual, though, it was too short.

I rang in the weekend Friday night by joining friends at G's Place in Hollywood to watch the Dolphins go 2-0 in preseason.  Let's hope the 'Fins aren't repeating last year's trend of starting out like gangbusters, fizzling in mid-season and winding up with a mediocre season...again. 

Saturday morning I joined three good friends on a trek to Homestead.  TANGENT ALERT: I discovered there is a SW 312th Street in Miami; this was amazing to me as I live in NE 191st Street and I think once it gets to NE 2 hundred-some-teen street it turns into Broward County.  Funny the things you learn after only 25 years in this county. SMH

So, my good friend supports Bridge to Hope charity through St. John's Episcopal Church in Miami, and on the third Saturday of every month needy families gather to eat and collect groceries that have been donated/collected on their behalf.  We lined the table with the lunch she prepared: aluminum pans of pasta and tomato sauce, meatballs, caesar salad, rolls and chocolate chip cookies.    I was assigned to meatballs with the instruction of 2 per plate until everyone had been fed. 

At 11am we faced the crowd and started to serve. On my left, my friend grabbed an empty plate: "Salad? Pasta?"  She then handed the plate to me.  "Would you like meatballs?" I asked.  "A roll?"  I hand the plate to the pastor on my right whose job was to sprinkle grated cheese on the pasta, meatballs and salad.  He also handed out dessert: 2 chocolate chip cookies on small pink and red paper plates that read "Happy Valentine's Day".  And so the assembly line began.  Mothers of varying ages steered their children to the table.  The younger children could barely see over the table; it was quite amusing to watch their balancing acts - trying to hold their plates of food straight while they're eyes were bulging over the tray of cookies at the end of the line. 

The next 45 minutes was a blur of "Thank you" "No salad, please" "Gracias." "Oh, come on, can I have another meatball?" "God bless you all" "Can I take a plate home for my blind husband?" "Thank you so much for doing this" "Can I have seconds?"   Not everyone spoke English, but across the board their smiles expressed gratitude and appreciation.  I knew that for many of them, the meal we were serving might be their only hot meal of the day, if not their only meal.  I was humbled.  I felt such relief when we'd finally fed everyone and I was able to give seconds and 3, 4 and even 6 meatballs out at a time! 

After everyone ate, they lined up outside to receive groceries.  The stage behind was loaded with hundreds of plastic bags filled with various items: pastas, cereals, rice, canned goods, condiments, etc.  Each person received a minimum of 3 bags and more depending on the size of the family.  We fell into another assembly line: fill a plastic postal bin with 3-4 bags, slide it down the stage near the door where the line began.  We emptied the bins, handed bags out, and tossed the empty bins back to the stage until all the groceries were gone.  St. John's hooked these people UP!!!

When I agreed to volunteer for this, I wasn't sure what to expect.  I knew I'd feel good about my good deed for the day, but more important it was a powerful reminder of how fortunate I am that my basic needs are met and I don't need to rely on the kindness of strangers for my next meal.  I have an excellent support system of family and friends and I never want to take that for granted.  I do sometimes, and I need to remember my blessings.  Which all makes me wonder: who is charity for anyway?  I thought I was doing something to help them and it turns out it helped me. ... Can't wait til the third Saturday of September. ;o)

No comments: