Sunday afternoon, Cathy and I met to cook up a meal for the guests at the shelter that my church is hosting this month. One month each winter, we take a turn opening up our church hall to people who have nowhere else to sleep. We take turns cooking, cleaning and offering a warm welcome. It feels good to be able to do something. I think it's a gift for us as much as it is for our guests.
I asked a bunch of my lady friends to pitch in some groceries or cash, and easily collected more than I needed. Andy took me shopping Sunday morning, and I loaded up the cart with good stuff. For the record, the leftover cash has gone to the shelter fund to help pay for supper another night, when the cooks didn't have enough funds. So I guess we provided a supper and a half. Thank you ladies!
Around lunchtime Sunday, I baked up a big batch of oatmeal cookies with raisins and pumpkin seeds to make them extra-nutritious.
At 9pm, Andy and I arrived at the church. We heated up the pizza and prepared hot chocolate and coffee and juice for the guests. Other volunteers set up the supper tables and beds and got the clothing and toiletries area ready. The guests arrived about 9:45. We had 15 guests that night. They were hungry and thirsty. Everyone ate a lot of pizza and a lot of salad. Several guests commented on how glad they were to get fresh vegetables as part of the meal. I think a salad makes a meal complete.
Then there was dessert. We served the cookies sundae style with ice cream, fresh strawberries and caramel sauce. That was yummy!
As soon as supper was done, the guests hopped into bed. It was about 10:30. The volunteers worked as quietly as they could to clean up the dishes and the kitchen, then we all said thank you to one another and headed for home. We were in our own bed about 11:30.
This is the last year that our church will host the shelter in our own building. The plan for the next couple of years is to have it for 6 months straight through at one church, near where most of the guests spend their daytimes, in Port Coquitlam. I think that churches and other groups will be able to sign up for week-long commitments to provide food and hosting at the church in PoCo. So I'll continue to help, but not again at St. Andrew's. In a couple of years, the shelter will move into a permanent building that will provide service year-round, day and night. I hope they'll want volunteers there too. This is nourishing work.
For now, I have 2 early morning shifts left before the shelter closes. Breakfast is simpler than supper. On weekdays we serve juice, coffee, toast and cereal, and hand out bag lunches as the guests leave. I'm glad to have this opportunity to be of service. It's what our faith community is about. I think it's what most of us crave, to be able to do something to make the world a bit more kind and helpful.
question: If you could cook for 15 new friends, what would you cook?
mompoet - pizza for you!