I had many different opportunities presented to me on places to work when I decided to do a year of service with the Catholic Charities Service Corps. I picked serving at the food pantries because I wanted to do some mercy work for the Year of Mercy and feeding the hungry is a work of mercy. I hoped to personally grow from this experience and better understand the needs of my neighbors.
There is a lot of physical labor involved in working at the pantry such as unloading the trucks and keeping the pantry stocked. It is good honest work and in this there is a simple joy that comes from it. I actually enjoy the hard work because it is in the times when the work is hardest that the workers at the pantry come together the most. Team work is key and knowing you can count on anyone there for support is also very important. Beside the good people there are also the joy one gets from interacting with the people who come to receive food from the pantry.
The pantry’s members are officially referred to as clients but to us they are more than that. They are our neighbors and friends who are very much a part of our lives. Working with them offers an enriching experience because they don’t just come to get food. They come to share stories about their lives, share recipes that they make using the food we give them, and some even offer to volunteer to help others. There is a real community commitment that exists between the workers and the clients to assist one another. This relationship gives both parties a sense of value and honors the dignity of each individual.
Personally, I marvel at the strength the pantry’s clients have. Many of them are dealing with very tough situations and they pull through with great courage. They place great value in community, family, religion, and friends. By placing their value in people they seem less focused on things and they seem happier in general. It seems to me the old saying runs true that poverty is not the denial of happiness but its source in it you learn to love God and trust one another.
-Brenda Myc, 2016-17 Service Corps Member, Catholic Charities' Parish Outreach and Advocacy