By Katie Rauch, FC 22
I have come to love the routine of my days here in Syracuse. I am an early bird. I love waking up to the quiet of the volunteer house, taking time to head downstairs and make coffee. Getting ready for the day. Drinking my coffee and doing my morning prayers. It is a peaceful moment before the absolutely hectic day ahead at my job.
I think that the thing that I love the most about my job is the sheer flexibility of my role at the Assumption. While I technically fill the role of “Assistant Director”, from day to day that can look very different! And because of my interests and what I am looking for in my position, I get to work on different projects and different daily tasks that best use my skills.
On a typical morning at the food pantry, you might find me behind the desk registering a client, or you might find me in the pantry stocking products or filling a box for a client. Fridays are probably my favorite day though, because I get to spend all morning in the kitchen making the soup (or pasta or pizza or rice or something totally new!) for the soup kitchen!
But no matter what I may have planned for the morning, something is always ready to surprise me! Maybe it’s dozens of boxes worth of donations we weren’t expecting, five clients all at once at the pantry, or a really weird and random food product that was donated. Honestly, it’s one of my favorite things, to be always on my toes, trying to complete all the tasks and get everything to the right place and person. It can also be pretty overwhelming at times too, being pulled in all different directions trying to get things done. But when it’s slower, I’m always moving and finding new tasks to fill my time. Some of my favorite little things include bagging all the days donated pastries so we can hand them out, sorting out donations and determining how to store them, and finding new ways to keep everything somewhat organized!
Since things are a little different because of COVID-19, the way that we operate now is a little different, and we aren’t able to have clients inside the building. It can be really disheartening that I’m not getting to know our clients as well as I would have. But, this does mean that I’m spending more time with our volunteers, who I have loved getting to know and who have encouraged me so much as I learn how to take on more responsibilities in my job.
At 11:30 our lunch window for the soup kitchen opens. I learned quickly that working the lunch and dinner window every day is pretty emotionally draining, so I typically only work the lunch window on day’s when we are short on volunteers. But when I do, it’s really rewarding to get to know our regulars and catch up with them, and it’s incredibly satisfying to see all the things we get donated finally getting handed out. It is such a joy on days that we have extra items to hand out like chips or fancy bottled soda or energy drinks, because it really makes it special and everyone’s so excited to get more than the usual soup and sandwich meal. (It’s also exciting to be out there and hear that they liked what you cooked that day!)
Once the lunch window closes I take my break for the day, I usually make some tea and do some light reading or TikTok watching! And then it’s off to the office upstairs! Again with the flexibility of my job, I get to spend a few hours using my other skills to help in Ministry Advancement, usually working with donations or using my design skills to make the weekly church bulletin! Then it’s back downstairs to prep for the dinner window, which is usually much slower in pace, but can be more fun as it is mostly our regular clients who I’ve gotten to know much better at this point!
I’m usually the last one home to the volunteer house, and typically that means food is already cooking and people are hanging out in the living room. Then the evening goes into dinner, dishes, prayer, and then New Girl on Netflix! And I love it! It’s so so good to come home to community each night to share in each other’s highs and lows of the day, and to relax and unwind! We usually all end up making a pot of tea before bed too! It’s the little things about community and our routine that I love, and I hope you enjoyed reading all of the little things that are making my experience so special here!
Katie is the Assistant Director of Assumption Church Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen. Visit our service sites page to learn more about Katie’s site and others we offer.