Archive for August, 2010

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Helping Heroes

August 31, 2010

Join us in commemorating September 11th by honoring our veterans. This year, our project will be to create positive change for our homeless veterans. Help us clean their living facility, paint spaces, play games and interact with the veterans, and record a piece of their history. Volunteers will be invited to join the vets for a barbecue lunch and receive a ticket to the Springs Preserves for their efforts.

Go to VolunteerCenterSN.org to sign up!

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Sharing Soup with a Smile

August 5, 2010

5:00 AM on Friday and my alarm clock is going off. I climb out of bed, yawn, and grumble slightly as I realize that I won’t be back in bed for several hours. I smell my coffee brewing and begin getting ready as my son, who is 10-years-old, walks out of his room doing the same. The attitude quickly changes as I remember why we’re up this early.

At 6:00 AM, we arrive at the Christensen House and, amid the hasty movement of the rest of the crew, begin carrying industrial sized pots to the trailer along with necessary cutlery and condiments. Once the trailer is fully loaded, a quick prayer is recited by those who choose to participate and we begin our short journey to an empty dirt lot. At roughly 6:30 AM, Soup and a Smile is set up and in full effect. Hundreds of homeless and hungry in the area are accustomed to the free meal offered every Wednesday through Saturday. The time nor place does not change. The majority of the customers are regulars and we greet and are greeted with smiles and friendly words. Gratitude is prominently displayed by those receiving the meals, many of whom are military veterans, elderly, and folks who are victims of our current economic crisis. They’re good people, just down on their luck.

There are various stations to assist with aside from serving the main dish such as serving bread, desserts, napkins, and clean towels. Our first time working with the crew, my son and I were given simple tasks so we could stay close to each other. I was passing out jalapenos and he was passing out paper towels. As we began learning the ropes and my son became confident with working the ladle, we moved to serving the main meal, which was spaghetti today. Some of the folks we recognize strike up conversations and my son beamed when he saw a gentleman who consistently offers him quotes of wisdom. “Dad, look who it is!” he exclaimed as this gentleman began telling a fable of a dragon who wouldn’t listen to his parents.

Contrary to what many people believe, they don’t all feel sorry for themselves and aren’t simply looking for a handout. In fact, many are content and even happy with their life and are joyful to be where they are at. Some talk about jobs they have recently applied to, others about sports transactions. The conversations buzzing around us are friendly and mimic those of childhood acquaintances. Before we know it, the meal is gone and the crowd has dispersed.

By 7:00 AM, we are cleaned up and those who choose to leave, can. This is when we usually leave for school and work. The others head back to the Christensen House to wash the dishes. Altogether, dishes included, it’s an hour and half of the day. My son and I have spent more time than that glued to the television set.

Soup and a Smile is definitely a prime volunteer opportunity. It’s more than serving the needy a warm meal; it’s a time for problems to be set aside and cordial conversation to be had. Volunteers and customers alike engage in friendly interaction.

This is definitely one of my top choices to help the needy in the Las Vegas valley. And their appreciation certainly humbles the servers as well. Soup and a Smile has definitely alerted me to the harsh reality of hunger in the valley and my own selfishness is suppressed more so with every visit. Since initially volunteering with Soup and a Smile, I’ve also noticed differences in my son. From our conversations, I gather that he’s growing up and recognizing that life isn’t all peaches. There is a cold world out there and it’s on us, all of us, to ensure the needs of humanity are met. Take a look at world-renowned psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and understand that all five theoretical stages are fulfilled by Soup and a Smile, as brief as it may be.

~ Jason

If you’d like to experience Soup and a Smile click HERE to get details and to sign up.  If the time/dates don’t work for you there are many other opportunities that need volunteers.  Visit www.VolunteerCenterSN.org to find the right opportunity for you today!

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Welcome Our Newest Blogger!

August 5, 2010

We’d like to introduce you to the newest member of our blog team Jason!  He brings some great experiences to our team and we can’t wait to hear about his adventures in volunteering.

Tell us about you?:  I am an 8-year veteran of the US Air Force who is now employed in the gaming industry as a network engineer for wide area progressive slot machines. I completed my Bachelor of Science degree from Park University in Information Systems Management and I’m currently a graduate student in the schools MBA distance learning program. I also have a 10-year-old son who attends the majority of volunteer opportunities with me.

How long have you been a part of the southern Nevada community?:  I moved to southern Nevada in December 2006 on orders from the Air Force. Upon my separation from active duty, I decided to make Las Vegas my permanent residence.

What types of volunteer opportunities have you participated in?:
  I have participated in roughly 6 volunteer opportunities over the past two months. My typical agency is the Las Vegas Catholic Workers Soupline program (which I found through your website!) and I have made it a habit to participate at least weekly.  I’m also not sure if this qualifies as a volunteer opportunity, but I typically find a fundraising or awareness distance run and participate in those. A few that I have completed are the Ronald McDonald House 5k, the Fight for a Cure 5k, and the LVPD DARE 5k.

What is your favorite thing about volunteering?:
  What I enjoy most about volunteering is the gratitude of those who are helped. It really brings those who are fortunate back to reality so we can appreciate the small things that we regularly take for granted.

Where is your favorite place to eat in town?:
  I love food which makes it difficult to name one place. In my opinion, different restaurants excel at different dishes so it really depends on what I’m in the mood for and what I order. Overall, I think Pepe’s Tacos is one of the best places I’ve eaten here. 

What do you like most about the community?:  I like the closeness of the Southern Nevada community! In all honesty, when I initially received orders to come here, I wasn’t exactly thrilled because Las Vegas is displayed as a gambling, party city with crime levels to match. A few months later, I was gladly proven wrong. Every neighbor I’ve ever had has been awesome and the people I’ve met around town have been just as splendid! Anytime a helping hand was needed, I’ve seen people ready and willing to make a sacrifice for others.