Volunteer Maryland had the privilege of supporting the Franciscan Center with direct volunteer service. The Franciscan Center is a Ministry of the sisters of St. Francis of Assisi and operate independently of Catholic Charities. Their mission is to enable those they serve to realize their self-worth and dignity as people of God. The Franciscan Center provides a continuum of essential services to the economically disadvantaged to reduce poverty and increase self-sufficiency in Baltimore.
On December 21, 2018, 3 staff members and 9 AmeriCorps members served meals, interacted with clients, and assisted individuals who utilize the Franciscan Center’s services. As we began setting up chairs and tables – giving hope, serving and being grateful were themes that began to develop. Putting on the famous ‘green aprons’ was like announcing we were ready to support the community as a team. Washing our hands and putting our hair in hair nets only added to the commitment to present the most respectful environment for the people who would be walking through the Franciscan Center doors on that December day.
As we started serving it was fairly quiet. Clients who came through the line all showed a different array of emotions. At first, I felt grieved to see the clients who were having a difficult time but I remember hearing the voice of one of our team members warmly greet each client. VMC, Jasmyne Cummings who serves at the Samaritan Women, was the first server in line and to each client she said, “Hi, how are you?” Those words and her kind smile contributed to the client’s self-worth, dignity and was a statement of the oneness of humanity. That day our team made a small difference by serving the clients that one meal. The Franciscan center operates with the value that “we are all brothers and sisters of one another,” and, through our service, that common humanity we all share came to the forefront with a communal peace and positivity.
Our team made a small difference by serving the clients meals, assisting with their belongings as well as carrying trays if necessary. Through our volunteering we gave a listening ear, a positive attitude, and kind words. And through our volunteering we also received “thank yous,” smiles and well wishes of Happy Holidays. By serving together our team built a memory and served over 350 clients. And with the start of the New Year right around the corner, my gratitude for life grew. I went home that day with a deeper appreciation for the roof over my head and a warm bed to sleep in. But more importantly, I had a deeper appreciation for the people with whom I live life.