When the call went out for volunteers to help the staff at Annunciation House serve the refugees who pass through their doors, many people answered. Sisters, lay people, local people, professionals – all give of their time, talents and treasure to assist the refugees and help them get to their sponsoring families. All have one goal in common – to help where needed. At the site where I am working, we often receive donations of food.
The site provides breakfast. All meals are served in the lobby. Our guests line up and as food is served, the few tables in the lobby fill quickly. When the tables are filled, they often take the food back to their rooms or sit on the floor in the hall and eat. If it isn’t too hot outside, many choose to eat in the parking lot. Most days, pizza is ordered for lunch and delivered by a local vendor. We have been ordering, on average, 90 pizzas per day. This will allow each person to have 1 piece of pizza for lunch. We have to hold back some of the pizzas to feed the people who will arrive on the buses arriving later bringing new people to the site as they may not have eaten yet that day. Church groups often sponsor, prepare and serve dinner to the people at the shelter. Imagine making a commitment to regularly prepare food for 100+ people! They have provided dinners of chicken with bisquets and soup. If the sponsoring groups do not serve the meal, we set up, serve and clean up the meals. There are two big coolers we keep filled with lemonade (when we have the mix) or cold water. Our guests are always willing to help by getting ice and lifting the heavy coolers onto the counter or cleaning after the meal. Somehow, there is always enough for each person to eat something.
I am sure the food served is not what our guests are used to but no one ever complains. There is laughter from the children who are eating, conversation between the adults and a real sense of community. This is a group of strangers who have come together for just a day or so until they go their separate ways and move to their sponsors but you can feel the community.
My prayer today is that we are not only able to feed their bellies but by our service, we are able to feed their souls and help them find comfort in an uncomfortable situation. I look forward to sharing more experiences with you – stay tuned.