Written by: Jada Stotts, APSU Communication Graduate Student
Lending a helping hand in the community has always been something I wanted to do but always felt that I never had enough time for. I hate that the reason behind me volunteering was because it was a class requirement, but I’m also so grateful for that.
I’ve been working with Manna Café for the past couple of weeks. I’ve helped clean up the kitchen and also served food to the needy people in Clarksville. Let me address the word “needy.” I wish there was a better term to use for people who don’t have the funds or resources to have a healthy cooked meal. I’m sure there are other terms out there, I’ve just always felt bad putting people who aren’t financially stable into a category. Just like the term “homeless.” Yes, that person may not have a home, but that doesn’t mean that has to define them. Anyway, I’ll get off my soap box. Volunteering at Manna Café has been a great experience.
The cleanup that was involved wasn’t hard work. All we did was create a simple assembly line and someone would scrub, then someone would wash, and so on. There’s always around 9 or so people helping when I’m there, which I’ve been lucky because I’ve heard many times there’s only one or two people. My first time I thought I was going to be there for hours and hours cleaning but everyone is very diligent and on top of things. When I serve food I get to briefly talk to the people coming in for dinner but one time I had the honor of speaking to a man by the name of, Mr. Brown, after he ate. Mr. Brown was an amazing guy who has been going through some tough times and just wanted someone to talk to. It was beautiful getting to know him and investing some time in someone and not just serve them food.
The people I get to meet that come for the food and also the other volunteers has been a great experience. Working with Manna Café has made me realize that the need for volunteers is very high in all aspects. I’ve always thought about volunteering as just serving food, or just sorting through clothes for the Salvation Army but there’s so much more that needs to be done on a regular basis.
Manna Café serves about 1,000 people per week. That’s a lot of food. That’s a lot of clean up. Helping hands are always needed and the people who do help consistently are just volunteers themselves. These people have families, they have jobs and lives but still choose to give many hours each week to helping our community. These people have been kind, passionate, and open-hearted and are doing what I believe God put us on this earth to do. Just within these few weeks of helping out, they opened my eyes to what it means to give back, and I’m looking forward to going back every week!