Vicki Stafford: Faces and Stories

When I was asked to help with community meals the plan was to only serve for one month and stay in the kitchen. One night I came out of the kitchen and started talking to the people and boy, was that a life changing experience. I realized I was talking to the same faces I see in the store and on the streets, but never gave a second though about them or their situation. Now, it has been 3 years of holding their hands while they tell me their stories of battling cancer, dealing with the death of a loved one and everyday concerns, to the enjoyments of new grand kids, a new job, and most importantly how this ministry has helped them save enough money to pay for bills and medicine. It has not only softened my heart but has made me less judgmental and more compassionate.

This cannot be done without the help of the volunteers and adults who take time out of their own busy lives to help serve others; including a 4-year-old volunteer whose personality ranges from being able to make friends with an elderly lady who is sitting alone to asking the other children who come in if they want to play while their parents are enjoying the company of others. We now know some of our church families’ names and their stories and each of them have taught us something about the love of God. We feel so blessed when we hear, "Thank you for what you are doing" and "The food was delicious". Then there are the smiles and hugs, oh how I like the hugs.

Little do they know they have given me much, much more than I have given them. They are no longer just a face in the store or on the street, they are my family and God's children looking for love and compassion. Serving others is more than giving money, it's the experience of seeing what that money is used for.

Greet each person with a smile on your face and love in your heart. Take the time to sit and listen to others, sometimes it’s the best service you can give.