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Volunteering at Broad Street Ministry

Ceiling of Broad Street Ministry. Ornamental windmills and origami birds are hung as decoration

Volunteering at Broad Street Ministry

By: Oren Allen

It was a beautiful building with huge stain glass windows. Music was playing, and the bright open room that we were in was full of energy. It was packed with over a hundred different people, seated at tables and ready to be served a warm meal. I looked up, and the ceiling was speckled with color, full of brightly colored cranes suspended above. The cranes that dotted the ceiling like stars were all made by the hands of the people who had previously come here to eat. On my way to this place I was anxious. I had done volunteer work providing food to people before, but back then I was hidden in a kitchen the whole time. This time was different since I was going to be right up front interacting with everyone. What if I was awkward or I messed something up? But my fears were quickly replaced by joy. The environment and the experience was nothing like I expected, and I couldn't be happier that I had the opportunity to be there.

On April 6th I went to Broad street ministry and volunteered in their Breaking Bread event. This is an event that provides hot meals to hundreds of people who need it. It was so different than anything I could have expected. The environment was stress free and energetic. Before we started, the people in charge explained how often events that supply food to people can be stressful and very difficult for those who attend. People will wait anxiously in a line to serve themselves, constantly wondering if there will even be any food left when they get to the front, but this was nothing like that. Broad Street Ministry ensured that every person was taken care of and provided for. It was set up like a restaurant, with each person being seated and served by a waiter. There was no need to worry if there would be enough food for them to eat, instead, they just needed to relax and let someone else take care of them. There was no stigma, no judgment, and no anxiety. Just a safe, carefree, environment for every single person who walked through those doors.

With all the action and the movement of the people (in addition to the wide-open room we were in), it was hard to comprehend just how many people had come. I had the job of preparing the plates of food. Before we started we had had 80 plates prepared and waiting on a table to be served. Seeing that many plates of food laid out really helped to put into perspective just the amount of people that had come. Within minutes of them starting, every single plate was gone. We ended up needing to make about 50 more before lunch was over. So, that's approximately 130 people that we were able to help that day. 130 individual people with their own lives and stories. I stood up at the front of that room, looking at each different person, from the lady in the fantastic and adorable fox hat, to the friendly and artistic man who created and sold his own cards. It was such an honor to be able to be there helping to create this amazing safe environment for every single person one of these people.