When you get the blues from the news or troubles in your own life, consider feeding the hungry in your community. You’ll make a real difference in the world by helping people solve their most urgent problem, at least for a few hours. If you think about the big picture, you could make a bigger difference.
At least, that’s what I felt when I joined other Vegans for Peace serving lunch for about 50 people at the Love Wins Community Engagement Center in Raleigh. The center works with “the homeless and at-risk community, providing food, shelter, clothing, etc. as able from a place of love and non-judgment.” The center’s website says:
We believe that homelessness is, at its core, a relationship issue. People who have deep, intimate relationships and a broad spectrum of social contacts don’t end up chronically homeless. The opposite of homelessness isn’t being housed, it is community. We think relationships have the power to change a life, and ultimately, the world. If we want to change the world, we have to do it together.
Clearly the folks at Love Wins see the big picture!
The Vegans for Peace do too.
- We brought all plant-based food, with a theme of summer cookout. That included soy barbecue sandwiches with slaw, baked beans, corn, potato salad, macaroni salad, and watermelon. For drinks, we offered lemonade, iced tea, and water. I brought dessert: Chocolate Sweet-Potato Snack Cake and Lemon Aquafaba Meringues. These choices were kind to the participants, the animals we didn’t eat, and the planet.
- Each dish was labeled with its name and ingredients. (Well, maybe not the watermelon, which spoke for itself.) We had some options for people with special needs (soy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, …).
- We brought reusable plates, cups, and cutlery. After lunch, we washed it so we can use it again for the next event. This avoided adding several bags of trash to the landfill and saved money for the group in the long run.
- Our excellent organizer, Andrea Kiefer, coached us to not going to make a big deal about the food being vegan. If someone asked us about it, we could answer in a low-key way. The event was about helping people, not hectoring them.
Because the Love Wins Center is about relationships, they asked us to make plates for ourselves after all the participants had gone through the line and then eat with them. The folks at my table told funny jokes and shared news about companies that were hiring. Afterwards, some of the participants stayed to help us clean up. I’m looking forward to joining the Vegans for Peace when we do this again in October.
Have you ever volunteered for an event like this? What did you love or learn? Please log in and share in the comments below.