May 5 2017
My Service Project
Serving others, especially those who deserve it the most is truly something that is close to my heart and something that gives me true joy. My family would call it “people-pleasing”, but heart would call it soul food. Helen Keller said it best, “True happiness is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” I relate to this on a personal level. Coming from a big family, I have always been taught to serve others with a happy heart. There is something about taking care of someone, surprising someone with something they want or love, and knowing they truly appreciate it, that makes me the happiest.
So for my service project in Dr. Soldani’s class I used her suggestion to help out at the Veteran’s Village. I baked sausage for a dinner that I will look back on and always be glad I participated in. Serving those wonderful people who deserve it the most was a heart-warming experience. I also made a goodie-bag filled with supplies that will hopefully be useful to the veterans. I remember Dr. Soldani telling me and the group of people who also helped at the dinner that night, that it was an extra special night because we engaged in conversation with the veterans and walked with them while they waited in line. She said that this was not normally how the night went and that made my heart happy. If I made any of the men I served night better than that is one of the most special accomplishments anyone can complete. The night went so well, except for one incident that at first upset me and now has taught me something.
The incident I am referring to happened while I was standing in line next to a man I was about to fix a plate for. All the men that served before this man were very thankful, happy and talkative. They seemed to just generally understand that we had come there to help them and responded accordingly. This man that I was now standing in line with was different. He was texting, avoided eye contact, didn’t speak to me, and ignored my questions in attempt to start a conversation. When it was our turn to make his plate I asked him what he wanted and he told me he wanted everything (don’t we all), and then said, “I need two plates”. I stumbled over my words for a few seconds because I did not want to tell him no but; I knew that others still needed to eat. So another student who was helping told me that he could make another plate once everyone had gotten a chance to make their plate. He did not miss a beat, as soon as the last person finished, he was right there. He nudged the plate into my hands without making eye contact with me and I knew that he wanted me to make his second plate. I started to make the plate but only I wasn’t happy to do it. Instead, I felt frustrated that he would treat the person who is serving him in such an ungrateful way. He took his second plate and left without saying another word.
I left confused about why he would act like that, and why did I serve him? Then, I realized something. I was on my way home where I would most likely grab a free snack from my kitchen before going to sleep in my bed. I started to think of where he was going right then. He was going back to a lonely, temporary room where he probably didn’t have any snacks, and he is probably going to sleep unsure about where he will go next. It was easy for me to show up at the Veteran’s Village and serve them but, for them it was most likely difficult for them to walk in there to be served and to be in a position where they need the help. That man that who wouldn’t look at me and seemed to be unappreciative of our help, probably appreciated it the most. He was dealing with the difficult position he was in the best that he could, and do you know what? He still deserved to be served.
I was not happy to serve him in the moment. It did not bring me joy because I prejudged the man and the situation. Today, it does bring me joy knowing that I served him. He taught me a pretty important lesson, and that is that those who have the worst attitude and do not treat you the way you would like, sometimes need help the most. From now on, I will serve others with a happy heart despite the way they are making me feel because people’s attitudes often reflect the way they feel. Maybe someone who is having a horrible day and is hurting people left and right will cross your path and change their perspective when you serve them and are happy to do it.