Why are we here?

We’ve now completed Day 3 of service at Community Servings in Boston. Our schedule has been kept fairly constant each day: wake up and be ready to leave by 8:15 (ok, 8:20), take the T a few stops down to Stony Brook Station, walk two blocks to Community Servings, and then do whatever needs to be done to get delicious and appetizing meals ready to be delivered to the hundreds of terminally ill clients that depend on them.

The other blog posts by my fellow Boston ASBer’s provide a great description of the work that we do while we’re volunteering at Community Servings, so I won’t delve into that aspect of the work in this post. Instead, I want to reflect on some of the things that I expected from this trip, and how it’s been pretty much the exact opposite of those expectations.

When I found out that we were going to be preparing food as our ASB service trip, my initial reaction was along the lines of, Can’t we do that in Easton? While I enjoy giving back to communities and don’t mind preparing food as service, I couldn’t understand why we needed to drive 250 miles in order to do it. Even the fact that the food was going to be delivered specifically to those with terminal illness such as HIV and cancer didn’t help me understand. It wasn’t until we entered Community Servings and Malissa gave us our Volunteer Orientation and Safety Training on our first day that it sunk in. We didn’t come all this way to prepare food. We traveled 284 miles to participate in the amazing operation that is Community Servings. We came to create and package healthy, nutritious, well-planned, meals for those whose medicine cocktails could total thousands of dollars per month, dollars that could therefore not be spent on nutritious food that would provide a potentially life-saving boost their weakened bodies and immune systems.

As mentioned in a previous post, there is a very strict guideline as to how (with hot water and soap for at least twenty seconds) and when (every time your hands come near your face, or you change tasks) to wash your hands. While I’ve read this sanitary information on print outs in bathrooms spanning the world, I never actually felt it necessary to waste twenty of my precious seconds washing my hands. Never, that is, until Malissa informed us that this protocol is in practice in Community Servings because if a disease, even a common cold virus, is passed on to the clients from the food, it could be life-threatening to their weakened bodies. These sanitary practices are strictly enforced at Community Servings not because the management wants us to have super clean hands; they’re enforced because each person working or volunteering there knows what could be at stake (a life) and chooses to hold each other responsible for that.

And this is why I have come to realize that volunteering at Community Servings instead of the local food pantry is worth the time and effort to come all the way to Boston. I’ve never seen a food service program put so much effort, thought, passion, and love into the food that they provide. Although we only have two more days of service with Community Servings, I’m so glad that I’ve gotten the chance to work there so that I could see what service can be, and maybe someday bring that level of dedication to others as well.