Friday, July 22, 2016

Shawna Served Food, Patience and Kindness at the Kearney Center

“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.”
-Mother Teresa

For my Service Project, I helped feed the homeless at the Kearney Center located at 2650 Municipal Way, Tallahassee, FL. The Kearney Center has been renovated to accommodate approximately 240 men and 150 woman. Saturday mornings the center serves brunch from the hours of 8:30am -11:30am to approximately 180-200 residents. Before the food is served the residence gather for prayer. I was placed on the end of the food assembly line in which I helped construct plates and handed them to the residents. From 8:30am to approximately 10am the residents were served eggs, bacon, sausage, danishes and yogurt, 10:30 – 11:30, the eggs were replaced with potato salad, bacon and sausage were replaced with chicken thighs, danishes replaced with blueberry muffins and yogurt. While many of the men and women were extremely grateful for their food, there were others who were extremely picky. While serving I met a young man by the name of George, he had been living at the shelter for only a few days. George was in line to be served and the young guy in front of him was being very picking, “he didn’t want this he wanted eggs with cheese, he wanted two bacon instead of a sausage and bacon, he asked for milk instead of yogurt. His behavior annoyed Mr. George and so when it was time for me to hand George his plate he refused, tossed his cane down in rage and walked away upset. I walked after him and asked why he was so angry and he said, “I get so sick of people who don’t have anything being ungrateful, I was upset for you all serving because you didn’t have to come down here to serve us.” 

As I appreciated his concern, I reassured him that when it comes to food, you will not please everyone. And although he was being ungrateful, it’s more important to me that he was fed because you and I don’t know when his next meal will come. So I politely asked Mr., George to accept the plate I made for him and to not put all his energy into being upset. He took his plate, sat in the dining hall ate and went on about his way. After serving, I helped the staff and residents clean the dining hall. I was told by the operations manager that the homeless are assigned chores while living at the Kearney center. She also gave me a tour of the building, the men and woman have assigned beds and before they are assigned a bed they have to stay at least three consecutive nights at the Center. There is also a patio one for the men and one for woman for recreation and another one of their chores is to keep the patios swept and cleaned. They have a computer lab in which the residents use to apply for social services and employment. There is a case manager on duty to assist the residents with counseling, job searches and permanent housing placement.
            I was delighted to volunteer at the shelter, I learned that homelessness comes in all shapes, forms, ethnicity, age, race, itellect and religions. I also learned that life at the shelter is more than just a cot or bed to sleep, there are readiness programs and activities to keep the homeless connected to society and to prepare them for long term housing. As far as my interactions with Mr. George, I’ve learned that it’s not worth the headache to be diappointed about a few ungratful individuals. Life is too short. I choose the quote by Mother Teresa because it is truth, that at the end of life we will be judged by the service in which we provide to others. I would recommend that everyone take a few hours from their schedules to feed the homeless at the Kearney Center.