A Servant’s heart is not just for the homeless

by Angela Brooks

Entering the Salvation Army for the very first time, I was not sure what to expect. I was excited to finally have the opportunity to serve, since my husband and I have talked about it for quite some time. The opportunity came up and made arrangements for us to help. New Year's Eve with people I did not know and loved it.
We started the day making 200 pimento cheese sandwiches while 6 men were in the kitchen chopping, dicing all the ingredients for homemade chicken noodle soup. We put the boys to work getting cups ready to add ice. Since this was their first time to see any poverty of this nature up close they were very reserved and stuck together like glue.

We prepared 3 cherry pies, 3 pumpkin pies, 2 cakes donated by a local bakery. The dessert table was lined as full as small plates would fill it. 5 gallons of Tea was rolled out on a small cart ready for serving.

While we were waiting for the main soup to finish cooking – we served coffee until three pots were empty. Walking around with a hot pot of coffee, felt different since a glass pot and a hot liquid, where I have worked for 22 years are dangerous items. They smiled as the pot came around – joking and laughing with the people sitting around them.

Using the work table out front making sandwiches, my husband and I were listening to the conversations as people began trigging in. They knew to get a ticket to count the meals as they came through the line and they also knew to ask for one cup to use for the day. The excitement and laughter in the conversation made me smile hearing their excitement for the upcoming 2012 year.

They talked among themselves mentioning the good things they hoped came their way this year. Four mentioned they were moving to a new location and hoped to find a job better than the one they have now. One man spoke about just getting out of the hospital with open heart surgery. He said I am going to be thankful for each day because I know I want is here next New Year's eve. When questioned why he thought that – he explained he needed oxygen most of the time but could not have it where he lived and he was suppose to be on heart medication which he could not afford.

Seeing two people who had been my patients previously – was really nice to see them in a different environment and doing well. People think that soup kitchens are only for the homeless. It is for those that are working but run out before the next check comes in. I was amazed at the smiles and laughter from people who were struggling with day to day activities. It was very humbling for me and my husband to serve 120 people. I am not sure who was blessed more – their belly with food or us with their presence.

As the people came around to get their tray, you could tell some did not have clean personal hygiene, some talked to themselves, and many said thank you and smiled as they received their food. My oldest son paused and looked at me when he heard a cell phone ring. Several had blue tooth wrapped around their ears. He continued to hand out trays. He leaned over and said "Mom do you really enjoy working with these kinds of people? And why do they have cell phones eating at a soup kitchen?" I smiled at him and "Yes, I do – even people that have good jobs make bad money choices – these people are no different."


Time to reflect:

Not only did we walk out the door after meeting and serving a whole new side of society. It made us all appreciate being able to get in the van and drive to our home where we are clearly blessed. It was also a good day to truly reflect opportunity to receive tremendous value.

Being a leader and making the world better doesn't have to be hard. We have been conditioned for generations to follow; to submit even if we know what our leaders are doing is wrong. We are conditioned to "think" we are powerless… to think it's "easier" to remain powerless. This is no more or less true than the opposite. We can condition ourselves, by supporting one another (and reminding ourselves), to see it "easier" to lead, create change for the better–to seek sustainable practices… respecting other points of view who share the same intention and learning to listen rather than use force at the first sign of disagreement; aligning one's own core values with how they choose to make money. Life is too short to play small, submitting to "status quo" and just letting things be as they are. But we all have a choice to live in reality. Consider living bigger. Life is short; team up with people who are making a difference. A real difference. This is livin' large.

I am leading a team who thinks large, who have goals to be bigger than who they are right now. Power is inside who we are, we have to open the door and let the good things in life in. Join us in 2012 – do not walk away without clicking this link. http://angelabrook.com/home-biz


Angela Brooks is a mental health nurse educator who spent the last 22 years working in a state funded mental hospital. In 'A Nurses Story', she shares not only what her patients have taught her over the years, but what we can all learn from those we consider 'at the  margins of society'. But it's also a book about nursing, about nurses, and about how a nurse healed alongside her patients. Ultimately, "A Nurses Story" exposes a raw truth – that each of us, individually, can inspire self-worth and purpose in every life we touch, if only we choose to.

What are nurses really thinking? What causes them to be frustrated and want to quit nursing even when they love taking care of people? What makes nurses stay, even when it feels like everything is against them?  In 'A Nurses Story', you'll discover the answer.  

The words in this book give voice to the millions of men and women who care for us and our loved ones every day in our most vulnerable times.  ‘A Nurses Story’ is their story.

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Copyright © 2011 AngelaBrook.com.

Angela Brooks is a retired nurse after 25 years in mental health. She used her lunch breaks to build her business part time on the night shift. Her car became a mobile university as she listened to business training, coaching calls on CD and phone webinars. She blogged while she was at her sons' baseball practices.

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