True happiness... is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose. - Helen Keller
Before going into my service project which was bringing food and serving it to the veterans in the veterans village I had truly no idea of what to expect. I had imagined it being almost like a homeless shelter and trying to provide conversation with people that I didn’t quite think I would have anything in common with the people. For our project I had volunteered to make mashed potatoes as a side dish to others who had brought in chicken and salad as well as macaroni and cheese. When I arrived at the village it was almost like townhomes that looked like normal apartments almost like the one I live in now and there didn’t seem like anything that bad. All the other participants brought up their foods that they made and we set up a line of the foods that went through the main dishes as well as the sides and then to desserts and drinks. All the other volunteers were students or former students that Soldani once had and some were even in classes that I had had before. Once we were all set up veterans started to pour in to get some delicious home cooked food as each lined up a volunteer(one of the students) would stand up in line with one of the veterans and have casual conversation with them about their daily life or career. Once we reached the food we would ask which food they would like on their plate and if they wanted more or anything else. Once you finished with one vet you then went on with the next in line and continued to do so after each vet got their food.
All in all the experience that I had gotten out of the project was complete enjoyment of others and learned that you should never really judge anything before you do it. The conversations that I had with the people were very influential; one gentleman asked me about school and what I was majoring in and gave me advice that I will definitely use in the future. He told that it doesn’t really matter how long I took in school as long as I did something that I found myself enjoying then I wouldn’t really have to work a day in my life. Another was telling me how he had been at the village for almost a year and before that had been and out on and off for a couple of years but that come the next day he was leaving to go to Utah to become a truck driver and it brought happiness to my heart because it is something that he is doing and maybe it will bring him closer to finding out what he can do to improve and stay out of the village. There was only one gentleman that told me he working at FSU of Engineering so I assumed he was a teacher or something but then I realized I don’t think he would’ve lived in the village it came to be that he was the chef at the school for the cafeteria. Once we got up to the food area and I started to put the food on the plate he grabbed the utensils out of hand and started to make his own plate and I saw the inner chef in him.
As the night came to an end Soldani said this was one of the best volunteering night that she had because the students were actually engaging with the veterans and usually the volunteers are too nervous to even say hi to the veterans. It made my heart warm knowing that we did something different with these people and I hoped that every veterans event after that was to be like how we did ours.