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Real Volunteers – Real Volunteering: Soup and a Smile

January 21, 2010

My first experience with the Volunteer Center was serving at Soup and a Smile. The volunteers I met were extremely kind and welcoming, but the best part was meeting the people we were there to feed. I met so many nice people who, despite their circumstance (whatever they might have been), were friendly, caring, and appreciative. I have never seen so many interesting people with so many wonderful stories surrounding me.

Although one would may associate poverty with hopelessness, the people I met were courageous and kind. At one point, a man with severe cataracts and graying hair placed a keyboard on the table where I was handing out apples and started playing a jazz tune. I told him I liked his playing and he smiled and thanked me. Where else does one encounter such enlightening examples of the human experience? Where did this man learn to play the piano and why was he playing to an audience of poverty-stricken people, himself among them?

I learned that we all have stories in our lives and experiences which make us who we are. Whichever side of the food counter you’re on, you have something to offer, some way to serve, and that man and I were really no different. We just ended up on different sides of the table. These are lessons about humanity that you can never learn unless you’re out there meeting the kind of people who can teach you them.

This story was written by Whitney Cox, 18 years old and soon to be attending college.

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