Ryan’s Week at the Soup Kitchen
Before Confirmation, candidates are prepared to become fully responsible member of the Catholic Christian Community. As a young person, the confirmand already understands that there is hunger, poverty, loneliness and need all around us and in the underdeveloped countries of the world. So they are invited to choose a Christian service project to do a good work for someone who is needy. Ryan’s class was also provided with a journal to record their experiences.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, Ryan and I volunteered at the soup kitchen last week. He wrote his experiences in his journal. They were given a list of questions that needed to be answered in the journal. The main points were: What did you – See, Judge, Act, Reflect. I found his observations very direct and honest. I’ve also included his entry from December when his class delivered Christmas hampers in different households in the city.
Ryan’s Christian Service Project Journal
Dec 17, 2005
On this day my catechism class had no catechism because we are doing Christmas Hampers. First, we went to Br. J—-‘s house. In there we put food in the hampers. Then we take some hampers with our group and drive it to the location on our sheet. Our leader in my group was my teacher in catechism. The first house we went the person had a dog but his christmas tree was small. His railing outside his stairs was broken. The second house we went the person had big T.V.’s and lots of food. He didn’t seem poor.
After we were done giving the Christmas hampers Br. J—- treated us to McDonald’s. This day was fun but a lot of work. I saw people who were poor and who didn’t look like he was poor. I decided to help people with Christmas hampers along with my classmates. This activity we had to put food in the hampers, give the hampers and go to McDonalds. The people we gave hampers to were happy to see us helping. I spent about two and a half hours.
Mar 28, 2006
Volunteer at Missionaries of Charity
Today was the first time to volunteer at the Missionaries of Charity. Me and my mom were the first ones there. While I was there, there were some other people volunteering too! Their names were Muffy, Shane and some other people. First we had to cut hotdog buns in half and put them back in a bag. Next, we had to put chips in plastic bags. We served hotdogs, soup, bread with margarine and donuts and muffins. I saw people coming in to sit and eat. I decided to serve them food. I actually served food and ask if they want water or coffee. Washing the tables, setting them and serving them – that’s what I did also. Other people that we served were hungry and we served them so they weren’t hungry. This activity took three and a half hours.
Mar 29, 2006
Volunteer at the Missionaries of Charity
Today I went with my cousin. First I had to take bread out of the bag then place it on the table. I had to cut bread by cutting thin strips on one side then the other side. Then I had to spread butter on the bread that wasn’t cut. Also we had to put two cups of sugar into a bag. We had to make seventy bags. We served soup, sandwiches, bread with butter, donuts, water and coffee. When I was serving I saw the same people from yesterday. I decided to volunteer again. Doing chores was involved also. I felt sad to see a young person eating here. I spent about 3 and a half hours.
Mar 31, 2006
Volunteer at Missionaries of Charity
Today there wasn’t very much people. There was about twenty to thirty people that we served. While we were serving we said a prayer. But first I had to spread butter on the bread. There was a lot of bread. My mom came with me to help. She had to cut onions. She was almost crying because she had to cut lots. We served soup, bread with butter, coffee, water and tuna sandwiches. I thought the day was done but we had to do lots of cleaning and chores. It took four hours so I was very tired. I saw people from previous days that came here because they don’t have food. Doing less serving and lots of chores was involved.
The soup kitchen is run by the nuns of the Missionaries of Charity. This is the same Order that Mother Teresa belonged to. They wear the same habit – white with the blue stripes on the edge of the veil. The regular volunteers are mostly retired seniors. Since it was Lent and last week was Spring break, there were also a lot of young volunteers.
It was my first time to volunteer at a soup kitchen and so I really didn’t know what to expect. The nuns keep a very clean kitchen. We were even asked to wear aprons and hairnets for girls and hats for boys. Everything is sanitized. They serve the hungry as if they were patrons in a restaurant. I couldn’t help but smile when one complained about a strand of hair in his soup. I didn’t think it was one of the helpers’. But the nuns courteously replaced his with a new bowl of soup.
The patrons were mostly Metis Indians (Aboriginals). I was surprised that Ryan didn’t mention this in his journal. Because that was the first thing that I noticed when they started coming in. It probably didn’t occur to him. Or it could be that he has been exposed to the different cultures and nationalities here in Winnipeg since he was born. But what struck me was his concern for them when we left the kitchen on our first day there. He asked me if they were homeless. And I told him that I didn’t know. The next day I went there, I asked one of the senior volunteers. She told me that they do have homes and they receive welfare money from the government. But I guess they couldn’t get jobs. One patron was telling us that he didn’t finish high school and there was one Polish lady who couldn’t read English. The last day that we volunteered, there were only a few people who came. I guess that was the day that they got their money and they must be out there spending it somewhere. Who knows where their money goes. We could only hope that they spend it on food and clothing. I saw a lady there who looked wasted, her hands shaking. As much as I’d like not to judge, your guess is just as good as mine.
But the Sisters don’t judge these people. They take them graciously and are very friendly with them. They know their names. I also learned that the Sisters visit these people at their homes or in the hospital if they are sick. The Sisters also have an after school program for the kids and they also teach catechism in nearby parishes.
It had been a tiring week for me since I also worked that week. But I had fun meeting new people, the volunteers who were very friendly and how could I forget Nelson who entertained us with his lovely voice. And I was glad that I have been able to help in the little way that I could.