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Local InterestBY PAULA GEISTERListing my reasons for volunteering at Sally’s Kitchen, the soup kitchen at The Salvation Army of Battle Creek (TSA), would take longer than this short space has. It’s not just about serv- ing someone a tray with food. At least not to me. Although initially I didn’t see it as much more than that, today I believe the people I meet there are more of a blessing to me than I could ever be to them.Some time during the spring of 2003 I joined a team that came in once a month to prep and serve food. This was when TSA’s soup kitchen was located on Van Buren Street. I saw right away from the behind the counter, the kitchen has its “regulars.” They’re people who work, don’t work, live alone, have fam- ilies, eat a lot, or eat just a little. Being able to get one hot meal in 24 hours has been the case for some. Others come in because they’re just trying to stretch their grocery money. They’re all differ- ent and I’ve enjoyed getting to know many of them over the years. But that started by simply asking someone his or her name.I believe we all enjoy hearing some- one call us by name. It’s music to our ears and makes us feel good. Not every- one who comes to Sally’s to eat wants to have a long conversation with me; sometimes they sit with an old friendServing From Both Sides of the Lineand they gab with them. (Which is something else I love about Sally’s – they come for fellowship.) Anyway, people come and go. We lose track of some; others we know will be there again tomorrow if they’re at all able.I can talk about the people who come to eat at Sally’s as I do because I’m a “regular.” In fact, recent circumstanc- es kept me away for about a week and when he saw me again, the dishwasher asked about my absence. “We haven’t seen you in a while,” he said. “I won- dered if you are okay.” I can’t tell you how much I felt cared for at that mo- ment.Some of the people who are regu- lars have begun to feel like family. We all have someone like that; not related by blood but would have our back ina crisis. When someone at Sally’s is a regular and we haven’t seen them for a while, we try to check it out. Usual- ly, they’re fine, but it’s always nice to know. Other times we know someone is in the hospital or is out of town visit- ing family. Several of our regulars have chronic illnesses and we ask, “How are you?” and really mean it. I guess it’s a way we take care of one another. We’re a special community.God led me to serve at this faith- based organization and now I have a passion for it. I’ve volunteered for oth- er organizations and learned a lot from the experiences. I’m grateful for those chances to learn to be more flexible, chill out, and realize my way isn’t the only way.However, serving at Sally’s Kitchen over the years, I’ve gradually learned that I was led here because I needed to better love my neighbor. No matter their situation. Regardless of their skin color, age, level of education, or any- thing else by which I might judge them. God is still teaching me and I’m grate- ful for that. Whichever side of the food line I’m on, I want to keep learning.How about you? Is there somewhere you could give of yourself? You might discover that, in giving what little you might have, the blessing is retuned one hundredfold.24 SCENE 4311 I CHARITABLE ISSUE


































































































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