In March of 2016, I went on a service trip to the Dominican Republic with classmates from Moses Brown School. There, I helped administer medications and distributed medical supplies to poor sugar cane field workers and their families. This trip was an eye-opening experience for me. For the first time, I was able to compare my life to those of the less privileged.
When I returned home, I knew that I wanted to volunteer again to help those in need and gain more perspective on my own life. When the opportunity arose for me to volunteer at The Louis & Goldie Chester Full Plate Kosher Food Pantry, in Providence, I thought back to my time in the DR, and jumped at the chance.
I did not know quite what to expect, but my feelings of anxiety disappeared when I met Susan Adler and Rachel Rollins from the pantry. During a tour of the building, Susan stressed to me that the people I would be working with over the summer would be like family to me.
On my first day of work, I met the crew. Every day after that, when I would walk in the front door, I would be greeted by a “Joshua!” from Susan and Rachel.
My responsibilities at the pantry varied; some days it was taking inventory, some days picking up food at the nearby food bank with Michael, Kevin, or Ken, and other days helping hand out food to those in need. At some point in the day, Rachel would always find me and say, “Having fun yet?” I would reply every single time, “Of course I’m having fun!”
The most fun always came with Alan on Thursdays. I arrived at the pantry at 8 a.m. and walked in to see Alan, who had already been hard at work for 30 minutes. We would proceed to fill bags of food for delivery, always laughing along the way.
Indeed, every person with whom I worked now felt like family. Everyone was happy to work with me, and was very thankful for the work that I was able to do. Likewise, I respected and looked up to each of the other volunteers and workers that I got to meet. The atmosphere at the pantry truly made my work enjoyable.
My favorite part of volunteering was handing out food to the hungry. It was incredible to see each person walk in with a huge smile on their face. Despite their living situations, and need for help getting food, they maintained a positive outlook. This taught me a very valuable lesson about life: happiness is not dependent upon material possessions. One of the most important factors in happiness is having a smile on your face and gratitude for everything that you do have, regardless of your situation.
It was enlightening talking to the people who came in, and I got to share some laughs with them as I learned about their lives.
Between the people I met and the lessons I learned, I am very thankful for my time at the food pantry. I am thankful for the support of those who worked with me, and look forward to the next chance to make an impact in the community.
If you would like to volunteer for the pantry or if you are in need of food, please call Rachel Rollins at 401-621-5374.