Support and Grace

Photo of Haley Buckbee with Assumption Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen volunteers.

My day begins by getting ready and, on the days I wake up in time, going to Daily Mass. Otherwise, I do the readings on my own while I eat breakfast. After breakfast, Matt gives me a ride to my service site, Assumption Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen, on the way to his service site, the Catholic Charities Men’s Shelter. I take the quiet time in the morning at the pantry to set up for the day and tidy up anything that may have been left unfinished from the day before. During this time, I also welcome the volunteers as they come in for the morning. Then, at 8:45am the pantry opens. Most days of the week I help in the pantry by running the intake window. It is my responsibility to welcome people and check them in or sign them up if it is their first time. I then pass the information along to the volunteers packing the pantry boxes so they know who the box is for, how many people are in the household, and if there are any dietary restrictions. The pantry is often busy, so I do my best to support the volunteers well and manage the needs of the families coming in. On the days that I am not doing pantry intake, I either help the cook prepare lunch, help the sorters go through the donation deliveries as they come in, or help pack the boxes in the pantry. It is my, along with Br. Joe’s (Director of Assumption Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen), main responsibility to support the volunteers and fill in wherever some extra help is needed. After the pantry closes at 10:45am, I help clean up, dish the meal for lunch, and set up the lunch window. Generally, there are volunteers to help serve lunch so during that time I take my lunch break. This is always a nice time to relax a bit and chat with the volunteers. Lunch ends at 1pm and the morning volunteers leave so it is just Br. Joe, myself, and an occasional afternoon volunteer. During this time, we prepare the nonperishable items in boxes for the next day’s pantry, restock the pantry shelves and freezers, and thaw any meat needed for the next day’s meal. The final task of the day is serving dinner from 4-4:45pm. Then, one of the wonderful volunteers usually gives me a ride back to the volunteer house and my day of service is complete.

Depending on the day, after getting home I will either go to the gym for a quick workout with some of the other volunteers or I will take some time to myself to rest. Then we eat dinner as a community and pray together. Before heading to bed, I like to make sure I have everything ready for the next day and I spend some time in personal prayer.

While my days can often feel busy, one of the biggest challenges and blessings, of my time in both service and in community, is the opportunity to affirm the dignity of those I encounter. Many of the people who come to the pantry are experiencing great hardships and so I do my best to meet them with grace. This can be hard some days, but I am continually grateful for the amazing volunteers at the pantry who are great models of how to approach each person with kindness. This focus carries over into community as each of my community members comes back to the house after a day of often challenging service as well. Some days I can provide them with the support they need and other days I am the one in need of support, but it has been comforting to know that they are here with me throughout this whole experience. Whether it be in service or in community, I am just happy to help in any way I can and have some fun while I’m at it.

Categories: General

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