Pros: easy, on my own time, enjoyable and productive
Cons: somewhat intimidating environment
I would come to the Union Gospel Mission, wash my hands, put on an apron and wait to be told where to serve. I mainly served at the desert table, where every person could pick one desert if they chose. We served mainly to homeless men, but there were a lot of women and children there as well. There were young and old and in-between people, and they were people of all colors and races. It was hard to see people who had so little compared to the comfortable lifestyle I lived (and still do live), but I felt really good knowing that I could give them a smile, ask them about their day and tell them to enjoy their meal.
The managers were very inviting, friendly and relaxed. They knew the system inside and out at the Mission and appreciated me being there. If I had any questions, they were always ready and willing to answer them.
I learned that although you cannot always give a person a house, or give a whole family coats for winter, anybody can give a warm, genuine smile and that turns entire days around for some people. We all could use a little more kindness in our lives, and if we share that with everybody, we can be there for those who have next to nothing. Little gestures can go a long way!
I would have to say the most enjoyable aspect of the job was knowing that even if it was a small one, I was making a difference. I could take an hour from my day to meet new people and ask about their lives. The "hardest" part was how uncomfortable some of the people made me feel. I was a young, seventeen year old girl, surrounded by people who I did not know and some of whom did not look too friendly. I had no actual problems with anybody, though.