True happiness... is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose. - Helen Keller. I had the honor of serving dinner to my brothers as sisters in armies at the Veterans Village. During my second semester, I was asked to write about an issue in the United States that I have a problem with. My issue was the amount of homeless vets I had encountered in my little bit of time in Tallahassee. It was heart breaking to me that this country would allow for those who have served and sacrificed to live out on the streets, with no help or resources. After my first day in Dr. Soldani’s class I knew this was going to be a great semester for me. Not only did I realize she was a very entertaining and interesting professor, but she is a special one as well.
Dr. Soldani’s class is the first time during my time at Tallahassee Community College, that we were asked to volunteer our time outside of school hours. When we were told that this dinner was for homeless veterans at the Veterans Village, I immediately became interested and wanted to participate. Hearing about these dinners made me think of the paper I wrote based on the fact that most veterans receive no help. To hear that there was someone such as Dr Soldani who has been devoting her time to help my brothers and sisters in need made me like her even more, I immediately volunteered. What blew my mind is that every day I would drive past the Veterans Village and had no idea it even existed. My wife says she could see the excitement in my face as I explained to her how I would be able to help out fellow veterans in need.
It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to make. I volunteered to make a side to bring, but couldn’t really decide what I was going to make that they would enjoy. Eventually I settled on mashed potatoes. I usually make mine with a lot of butter and garlic, but do to the fact that I was serving this to a large amount of people, I did not want to put ingredients in that some would not like. Showing up to the dinner and being greeted by those that lived there gave me a since of pride I hadn’t felt in a long time. Once some of them saw my shirt, which was a Tallahassee Community College Veterans Association shirt, I was asked what service I was in. Engaging in the old friendly rivalry of which branch is better, felt good and brought back memories of me working with other branches while I was active. It seemed that the veterans really enjoyed the food and I enjoyed the look of satisfaction on their faces as they left with food.
Talking with some of the vets there gave me a sense of accomplishment. A lot of them congratulated me on retiring and making it to twenty years. Others also stated that they wished they had stayed in and finished. Some wished they could go back to school like I am and get a degree. Those conversations humbled me. Here I was thinking about how difficult some classes in my semester had been, and here are these guys, that have not yet had the opportunities that I have had or accomplished what I have, yet they refuse to quit or give up. Most seemed to be optimistic about life. Witnessing their struggle made me feel like I need to push myself harder to make sure I accomplish my goal of graduation with my degree.
My hope is that my presence helped someone else to realize they can continue to pursue things that they really want in life. Things may seem harder for them, but I hope seeing that Tallahassee Community College Veterans tee-shirt on me, motivated someone to keep pushing and never giving up. I know the mentality being alone can bring sometimes, so I hope seeing me lets them know they will never be alone. I have already volunteered to do bring dinner for Thanksgiving, and I am looking forward to this holiday more than I have before, because I know my good deeds will not only go towards my family at home, but to my brothers and sisters there, and I hope that I will be able to put a smile on a few faces along the way.