Tag Archives: soup kitchen

hugs and cabbage casserole

the guys were outside smoking as usual as i approached the side door of the cottage.  it was snowing a bit and the walkway was slippery under my running shoes.  today was officially a boots day but i didnt plan it that way.  dont you hate when nature doesnt consult you first?  i do and so do my soggy socks.

without fail, every day i show up at the cottage we hug.  big manly hugs.  we call each other brothers and slap each other on the back.  its pretty rad.  i love the guys i work with and am blessed to serve alongside them.

after the manly hugs and back slaps have been had, coffee is poured, soup is tasted and conversation flows from one topic to the next.  today breakfast was quiet.  only 59 people came in to dine.

only 59.

some times i have to catch myself.  its easy for my mind to think strictly in numbers.  high and low numbers create a barometer of sorts.  the number on our counter becomes another number i plug into the invisible barometer.

but people arent numbers, the voice inside my head screams.

i swear im not crazy yet.

59 human beings in my city, who cant afford to feed themselves, came in to dine tonight.  59 low-income, poor men and women came in to share a meal together. 59 people of black, white, yellow and brown skin, many with some sort of disability (mental and physical), came in to eat our cabbage casserole.

i know what you’re thinking: ‘what kind of grubby ass food you serving down there?’

when someone told me cabbage casserole i, too, had a similar reaction, but let me tell you: the church ladies from a local church can whip up a mean casserole!  i didnt think cabbage could taste so good before today.

volunteers were sparse so i was main course server.  usually we get the volunteers to serve the food at the kitchen window, and we do the rest.  but not tonight.  tonight i scooped cabbage casserole and doled out cupcakes and mini cinnamon buns.

i was mr popular.

i got to talk with everyone that came in, if only for a brief 15 seconds.  112 people dined tonight.  im too tired to do the math on that properly but im pretty sure thats 27 minutes or so of hello’s and enjoy your meal.

i really enjoyed it.

i bet you would too.  try it out.  find a local soup kitchen in your city and volunteer this holiday season.

you wont regret it.

i promise.


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‘do you like chocolate?’

what a silly question.

‘of course i like chocolate.  who doesnt?’

with that the bearded man with coffee-stained teeth and a hearty laugh forced a newspaper clipping into my right hand.

‘theres all the chocolate you could ever want and more!’

he was right.  the image of a newly constructed chocolate train held a caption underneath it stating that its weight was calculated at just over a ton.  a ton of chocolate!  my dentist would smack me upside the head good if he just saw the way i was oogling that train.

mm, chocolate transportation.

my fellow chocolate lover took back his newspaper clipping and resumed his place in line, muttering to himself about trains and chocolate.  hes one of the many people ive had the opportunity to meet in my short tenure at hope cottage, a soup kitchen in the north end of halifax.  two weeks ago i decided that doing construction work was far too hard on my body (knees and back didnt like it) and i had little time to hang out with my friends on the street.

‘what are you?  a wrestler?’

i cant say anyone has ever asked me that question before.  the small, old man who asked me probably thought everyone looked like giant wrestlers.  i told him i wasnt a wrestler but his squinted eyes and doubting stare told me didnt believe me.  maybe its better if people think im a wrestler since the soup kitchens location is smack dab in the middle of one of the more dangerous areas of the city, if not the most.

hope cottage looks like just your average house from the street.  it was opened 42 years ago by a local church pastor to help struggling low-income families and homeless men with meals during the week.  what probably started as a temporary fix has become a fixture for the city that has seen its poor and homeless population grow larger over the years.  several different churches and groups help supply food to help with costs and hundreds of volunteers help serve the meals.

its an incredible organization to be a part of.  im blessed.

laurie came in for dinner tonight.  the first thing i saw was her big smile.

‘i didnt know you were working here!’ she said followed by a big hug.

laurie tells me she got her old job back (!!) and has been working for the past three weeks.  now she is able to see her kids on the weekends!

its not everyday i get to hear success stories which just makes this one that much better.

congrats, laurie, and thanks hope cottage for having me aboard.


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