Professor Jennifer Simmer
SOC 244 – Social Class and Inequality
04 December 2014
My Experience At The Interfaith Food Center
Volunteer work is when people dedicate part of their time and energy to different types of social welfare activities without receiving any financial payment for doing so. There are several reasons why one volunteers, but the feeling of being useful is a strong motivation for many, and have one’s actions appreciated by others is considered a great reward. The experience of volunteering teaches the importance of each small effort a person does for the well-being of the community and other people. Even though I had always been willing to help others, when it comes to asking for help I used to be either too proud for that or I thought I would end up bothering people. Volunteering at the Interfaith Food Center, however, was an opportunity to change my perspective and recognize the relationship between the helper and the needed as two empathetic human beings helping each other.
The expectations a volunteer might have about his work can lead to certain disappointments and challenges if the person is not open to face these situations with another point of view. One of the assignments for our sociology class was to volunteer for three hours at a Food Center. As soon as a person hears the word “Food Center” the picture of people serving food comes to mind. In my head, I saw myself with a huge smile while serving food to homeless, even though the Professor told us we might end up doing something else in there. I was truly excited to go because I used to do this type of volunteer work in Brazil, which I really enjoyed. However, I depended on friends who have cars to get there, and unfortunately our class schedule would never meet. As the weeks passed, students were coming back from the Interfaith Food Center and sharing their experience with the class. The longer it took for me to go there, the more I would rely on their stories to picture my future experience at the center, but their feedback was not the best source of motivation. None of the students said they spent their hours serving food. The closest to it were two of them who worked helping to organize boxes of canned food. My friend and I were trying to find a day that would fit both schedules without any of us missing a class, but the lack of interesting and motivation were making me not to put too much effort to make things work. With only two weeks left for the end of the semester, we decided to go and face our assignment. Luckily, I was completely wrong when I based my future experience on others’ and thought the work would be tedious and disappointing.
On December 4th, two friends and I left Whittier College at eight o’clock in the morning and drove towards the Interfaith Food Center. We arrived there in fifteen minutes and before locking her car, my friend suggested we should leave our belongings in the trunk in case there was no room in there. I was expecting the place to be full of Whittier college students and their staff to be very impatient and judgmental because we were doing our assignment at the very last minute. Veronica opened the door for us with a smile on her face, but right away she noticed that I was wearing sandals. For a moment I thought I would not be able to volunteer, thankfully she did not let me feel this way for more than a few seconds. Veronica immediately explained the only difference was I would work in the office instead of the warehouse with my friends. For my surprise, she was very receptive and after filling out some forms, she gave us a tour. From what I could notice, the center had a very efficient way to work and the staff was happy and funny, they seemed grateful for being able to help others. While taking a tour, my two friends stayed at the warehouse, and I went back to the office.
Veronica gave me some papers from the “emergency food assistance program certification of…