Soup and a Smile Brings a Smile to Clients and Volunteers

July 6, 2010

My journey begins here…at the Volunteer Center of Southern Nevada.  Allow me to explain.

A few weeks ago I lost my job.  I was feeling down in the dumps…a little sorry for myself.  I was a statistic; a victim of the economy.  I spent a little time in thoughtful pondering, “What now?”  Well, I figured that while I am in the midst of my search for a new job, I may as well do a little something to help some other people who may need a little hand up.  See, even though I lost my job I still have a home, a family, and food on the table.  I have always been aware that there were people “out there” that were less fortunate I just never really dedicated a lot of time thinking about it.  I am thinking about it now.

So, I have begun a journey …a journey of discovery.   I want to discover who the people are in the Las Vegas valley that need help; what sort of assistance they need; what is available in the way of services; what I can do to help.  I am on a mission.  I am going to VOLUNTEER!  I’m not talking about dropping some spare change into a bucket or donating blankets to the local animal shelter or dropping off clothes and household items to the local charitable organization.  While all of those things are VERY worthwhile, and I will continue to do them all, this is different.

I had heard about the Volunteer Center of Southern Nevada from people that I know, so I went to the website, signed up and clicked on the link to search the calendar of volunteer opportunities.  WOW!  I was shocked at all of the available opportunities.  After reading some of the descriptions of the projects, I chose “Soup and a Smile”.  This is a project that provides a prepared meal to poor and homeless people.

This opportunity occurs each Wednesday through Saturday morning, early.  As the project is run by a faith-based organization, there is an optional morning prayer at 6:00 a.m.  Otherwise volunteers should arrive at 6:15 a.m.   The group of volunteers and organizers carpool to the site where the food is served.  Once the food is gone, volunteers can leave or go back and help with dishes.  Again, that is optional.

When I arrived at the kitchen where the food is prepared, I found that there were half a dozen giant pots of food already bubbling on culinary style stoves in a tiny kitchen.  Obviously someone had been preparing this food for hours before I ever got there.

Right on time, and with great efficiency, the organizers loaded the pots and all other supplies onto a trailer and at 6:30 about 8-10 vehicles convoyed to a lot where people were gathered, already organized into lines.  The food was set up, served and the area cleaned up by 7:00 a.m.  Some volunteers left at that time.  I decided to help with dishes so I followed the convoy back.  I was done by 7:30 a.m.

This is a project that is convenient for anyone to participate.  There are no special skills required, no heavy lifting, no prolonged standing, it assists a large number of people and it is a short term commitment.  The early start time, short duration and central location make it a good opportunity for someone to do before work, classes or appointments.

“Soup and a Smile” was the perfect first experience for a novice volunteer like me.  The organizers were efficient, informative, friendly and appreciative.  They work hard and they need help.  They provide what may the only meal of the day to hundreds of people.   They make a difference.   I will be back to help them.

Kathy Hamilton
June 2010

To participate in “Soup and a Smile” click HERE to sign up.  If you haven’t created an account to volunteer please register first at www.VolunteerCenterSN.org.  For other opportunities that impact Hunger and Homelessness click HERE


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