Wednesday, May 22, 2013

LCC: Prospect House

Years ago when my girls were little I volunteered for a year at a local homeless shelter.  There were many times I was moved to tears by the stories of the residents.  Most of the men were Veterans.  Most of the woman simply made poor choices in life.  While I was there I held babies, comforted elderly, completed in-takes and told countless people that the shelter was full and offered alternative shelters to call.  That year taught me more than I could ever learn from a book or movie.  Like how to truly appreciate the opportunities I had growing up from a mother who devoted her life to her children and a father who worked multiple jobs and countless hours to provide us with what we had.  I grew to appreciate what it took for my parents to offer us a stable home, nutritious food, and clothing that fit and kept us warm.  

Working at the shelter make me realize that my children have the same opportunities I had as a child and possibly more.  We live in Fairfield County, a region of the country that has some of the highest income levels as well as some of the lowest.  The economic disparity is apparent every time we drive through the cities that surround ours.  I want my girls to appreciate what they have without feeling guilty for the things that they are able to enjoy.  This is a fine line with children.  

We had the opportunity to share in Jesus’ mission of helping those most in need this weekend by volunteering as a family at Prospect House in Bridgeport.  Lilah spent the day baking 2 1/2 dozen cupcakes with LCC to bring for dessert.  When we arrived Greg, Grace, Lilah and I set out to prepare 100 grilled cheese sandwiches to be baked in the large industrial ovens.  Colleen, a friend from church, has organized monthly dinners at this shelter for over 5 years.  She encourages children Grace’s age to do this mission work before making their Confirmation.  While we were busy cooking, Colleen was making a huge pot of beef and bean soup to be served with rice.  

I estimate we served 75 meals Saturday night.  Every single resident thanked us for our time, our meal and our dedication to helping them.  We heard so many “God bless yous” that we just could not help but smile throughout the dinner.  My girls were happy giving their time, their effort, and a bit of themselves with others.  There was one moment when a resident came back into the kitchen upon learning that Lilah baked the dessert with her friends, from scratch.  He thanked her personally.  He told her how much he enjoyed her cupcake.  Colleen whispered to me that it just does not get any better than that.  Amen.


Jenn said...

I love this and that you had the opportunity to serve together! Bless you for caring for those in need. Hutch is a Veteran and works to serve Veterans, so my heart especially goes out to those that have served our country and then been all but forgotten.

My girls are learning so much from serving at the Children's Shelter this year...some of those lessons have been difficult but I think they are seeing what it means to serve with the heart of Christ and love others as He does.

P.S. Awesome cupcakes!

Karen said...

This is such a beautiful story Jess. I love when children have a servant's heart. I think it is SO important in this day and age. I love your girls love to give back. What a wonderful experience.

Jessica said...

We are definitely going to do this again. We need to do more for our Vets. They give their lives in service to their country every day. They leave family behind to answer the call of duty. They need more assistance to reenter the workforce, family, society when they come back from war. Thankfully my brother adjusted fine after Afghanistan (from what I can tell) but my heart just goes out to the men and women who struggle.

Jessica said...

Karen, You inspire me with all the work you do through your church. Our church has fewer opportunities so I try to make the most of what my girls are able to do. This is something we definitely want to do again.

Frogcreek said...

What a great experience! I love volunteering, and volunteering alongside your kids is such a special thing. I wish we could do that more often. I am so happy that you all were able to do that!

Jessica said...

There are lots of dinners that you can contribute to, even if you don't serve. Columbus House in New Haven is a huge shelter that may take donations of desserts or one pot meals. There is also a soup kitchen right near Yale but I don't remember the name. Most times if you call the day of and ask if you can drop off freshly baked items they will always say yes. Most shelters won't let kids go until they are teens. I had to get special permission to bring Lilah.

Frogcreek said...

Ok, great info! I would love to do that sometimes.

Diane said...

What a great opportunity for the girls. We have worked before in our food pantry and soup kitchen. It can be a very humbling experience. All the food looked great and I am sure it was enjoyed by all.

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