Tag Archives: volunteer

giving up to gain

there wasnt much to do when i arrived at hope cottage on friday morning.  soup was on the burner warming up, coffee and tea were brewing in their respective pots, and sandwiches had all been made up for the day.  brian make quick work of the morning routine.  i found him at the back of the dining room hall nose-deep in his new book, the hunger games when i came in.  we exchanged a nod and a friendly morning grunt.  yes, we grunt when we see one another.

primitives, we are.

morning meal didnt draw much of a crowd.  gst cheques came in on thursday.  tim came into help serve and we got talking about life.  tim is only a couple of years older than i but with his grey beard seems about 20 years my senior.  i dont tell him that though.  its too soon in our knowing one another to tease about silly things like that.  tim limps a bit when he walks because of an old injury and serves coffee and tea with a giant smile on his face.

thanks for all you do, tim.

after breakfast, andrew asked me if i was interested in making soup.  having never made soup before i decided to take him up on the offer.  but first, lunch.  eggs, chorizo sausages and toast with a glass of orange juice.


what looked and seemed like a great combination turned into anything but.  a collective belly ache came over the three of us (terry, our director joined us).  it made for an uncomfortable early afternoon.

never.  having.  that.  combo.  again!

on to soup making.

andrew got me to do most of the work.  something about learning better from doing.  sure, sure, lazy boy (kidding).  he lead me through the process.  boiling the chickens, tearing off all the meat, dicing up the meat, adding spices, veggies and rice, and voila!  chicken rice soup.
ill have to see how the crowd likes it on monday morning.  if any get sick im blaming it on andrew though.  thats legit, right?

in the midst of making soup, andrew and i got to talking about homelessness and poverty in our city.  what i learned was valuable.

a few years back, andrew went on a missions trip to the ukraine.  while there he witnessed what he described to me as the worst imaginable poverty.  it rocked his world and changed his perspectives.  upon returning back home, he felt some personal changes were in order.  he told me he felt a calling from God to give more of himself to the local poor and homeless community in halifax. unfortunately, working two jobs didnt afford him much time to do much of anything. so he did what any reasonable person would do – he quit his jobs.

with ample free time on his hands he devoted himself to volunteering at hope cottage, serving food and helping with whatever he could.  he loved it.  it filled a need in the community while also filling a hole in his heart.  that hole in all our hearts that can only be filled when we love our neighbor as ourself.

shortly after volunteering at hope andrew was asked if he wanted to be hired on as a member of the fulltime staff.  his desire to gives himself more to the local poor and homeless community lead to a completely different career. what a great example of what it looks like to really trust God with ones life; to step out in faith and sacrifice your comfort for some thing much larger than yourself.

inspiring to say the very least.

andrew is just another guy trying to follow Jesus the best he can.  im darn glad we are friends.

“human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” -mlk

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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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