Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The veterans began to flow in, and some of them even stopped to joke and converse with me, which instantly brought so much joy. - Veterans Village by E.V.

Veterans Village Dinner
 “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.” Proverbs 3:27
            When I arrived at Veterans Village, I instantly felt a little behind. It had seemed as if the people I was serving alongside were not new to serving there like I was. But I was instantly placed to help set up and get in position to serve and felt like family to every new face in the room. Everyone was talking about how busy it was about to get, and how even though so many people come through we would be done in ten minutes. Although this was a little frightening to me, since I was expecting everything to be hectic, everyone couldn’t help but talk about how rewarding it was to be there and serve those who have already served us. The veterans began to flow in, and some of them even stopped to joke and converse with me, which instantly brought so much joy. Even though only half of them actually wanted the salad I was serving them, I made a point to engage with every single person, share a smile, a hello, or even an “enjoy your meal.” It went by in ten minutes like everyone said it would, however, I wish that experience could have lasted longer. We cleaned up, took our selfie, and went home.
            I left feeling fulfilled. I serve several times a week at our local Cracker Barrel and consider myself fairly good at it. When I’m serving at work, it is easy to feel like you are pouring out an energy that is never reciprocated, and leave feeling drained trying to count every coin just to feel like it was even worth it. I didn’t feel that way there. I was able to give a genuine smile and laugh, and not even feel like I needed to be poured back into. I was able to do something I do nearly 20 hours a week and leave drained, in 15 minutes and leave full of joy, gratefulness, and peace. I have always considered myself fairly shy and am drained from social situations, but it was easy for me to break out of my shell, feel welcomed, appreciated, and know that serving a community who so generously has served our country was grateful for the little bit of salad in their clamshell to-go box. If I could spend my 20 hours I spend serving at Cracker Barrel, at the Veterans Village, and leave with no tips but a heart full of joy, eagerness to serve, and peace, I absolutely would without a doubt.
            Contributing to the Veterans Village is something I believe every person should do at least once in their life. Although it is rewarding to the person serving personally, taking even 15 minutes out of the 10,080 you get a week to serve a community who has already served us rewards them in a way that is unbelievable. The gratefulness they show and their eagerness to see us again just proves that a small act of kindness does not go unnoticed or unappreciated. However, sharing all of the laughs and small talk with someone who is genuinely happy to see you for those short 15 minutes is reason enough to find a way to give back to the community and serve the Veterans Village.