“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”~ Maya Angelo
The best way to describe my experience for the service project this semester is it felt as though my heart grew three sizes on Thanksgiving Day. I have had the fortunate opportunity of taking a class that had a professor who is involved in a worthy cause and providing a service to our local veterans. As my service project, I jumped on the opportunity to serve Thanksgiving to the veterans who reside at the Veterans Village. I was very excited to be spending the day with people who care (volunteers) and people who would genuinely appreciate the love being delivered with a Thanksgiving meal (veterans).
Before the day and during the sign up I learned one of my former co-workers was going to be there. This immediately gave away to any nerves I may have experienced about doing something new and unknown. I have only known Tracy Metcalf to be a selfless and genuinely kind person. To be in her presence was a relief. I was incredibly excited about meeting my professor. I have admired her work from afar in making a difference in our community. Another joy was being able to bring a friend of mine, Debra Loftin, who has been wanting to contribute and participate in a wonderful cause. Her being there was like bringing family with me to share in the experience.
The enjoyment of my service project began before I even arrived at the Veterans Village. It began by preparing the dishes of mashed potatoes, dressing and cranberry relish. Debra joined me in peeling 40 pounds of potatoes. I personally believe cooking is wonderful way to participate in fellowship. Conversing over food with a glass of wine is always enjoyable. We reflected on what we are thankful for in our lives and how spending the day with people who would appreciate the hot meals, being prepared with love, is the perfect way to spend not only the holidays but every day. It makes you stop to reflect what is “real” and holds value in your life. I also found myself asking the question “what kind of person do I want to be and how can I spread good will to others”. This was a great start for spreading good will to others.
Once Debra and I arrived to the facility we were immediately greeted by residents at the Veterans Village who had smiles on their faces and more than happy to carry in supplies. I enjoyed chatting with Jeffrey who is the current on site resident manager. He was so informative on the Veterans Village program and explained how it came to be. He explained he used to be FAMU student housing. He went over the units layouts and how the common areas are used. He also explained who the residents consisted of, their possible situations and how long the program is available to its applicants. He also showed us the offices located on the property and how the liaisons on site provide assistance the veterans regarding their benefits available to them or leads in future employment and relocations.
As classmates began to arrive, the organizing of food stations started to come together. I enjoyed watching the comradery of the volunteers as we worked together to create an organized food line. The conversations were lovely and I truly felt everyone I had interactions with were enjoying the experience as much as I was.
As the veterans began to arrive to collect their delicious plates of food you could feel the appreciation from them. I think this began the feeling of appreciation all around. I, personally was there out of appreciation to them and the service that they selflessly provided to us civilians. The energy in the room was a true testament of “what comes around, goes around”.
I thoroughly enjoyed the classmates and college administration that was there. It truly was an enjoyable experience that I will continue to help with as I am able to and needed. Thank you Professor Soldani-Lemon for creating a project that helps people get out of their box and come together for the greater good of a community.