This month our clients had the opportunity to serve at the Loaves and Fishes Community Meal, which is a non-denominational event held at the First Presbyterian Church. Volunteers and donors from several churches and organizations worked together to make this outreach a great success. Meals were served and delivered to elderly people in need of companionship, families struggling financially, group home residents seeking social safety, and people hoping to build stronger relationships throughout the community. Meals were also delivered to CAPSA to help those sheltering from domestic violence. We felt fortunate to be part of such a great community effort!
Adult clients and staff assisted with food prep and set-up on Friday evening, and serving at the meal on Saturday was done by adolescent clients and staff. After volunteering on Friday, one of the adult clients reflected,
“The weekend before Thanksgiving I was having a hard time. Even though I had a home pass coming up soon I was feeling fed up with the rules, tired of having no freedom, and sad that I have missed out on so much of real life. I was struggling with eating disorder urges, feeling angry that we have to eat so much food here, and angry that my body looks so different from before. I may not have shown it outwardly but inside I was having a pity party. I knew we were going to volunteer on Friday night at a church for the community Loaves and Fishes meal but honestly I was kind of dreading it. I wasn’t in the mood to do something outside of my comfort zone. But I tried to have an open mind and little did I know it would end up being one of my favorite outings we’d done in a while.
“I was assigned the job of slicing turkey. At first I was disgusted because the turkey meat was not the normal turkey I grew up eating at Thanksgiving dinner and the texture and smell were not particularly pleasant. It was like they had taken all different types of turkey meat and processed them together into molds of turkey wrapped in nets. But as I sliced piece after piece of the meat I started thinking of the people who would be eating it, people who would be so grateful for this meal, people who might not have the money to provide their own Thanksgiving dinner or who had no loved ones to celebrate with. This might be the first warm meal they had eaten in weeks. It was humbling to see so many volunteers working so hard to prepare this food and I thought of all the people who donated so that feeding hundreds of people for free would be possible. And I started thinking of how many people in this world have no food to eat and no opportunity to receive a free meal anywhere.
“My perspective and motivation changed. I started thinking about how blessed I am and how easy it is to take everything I have for granted. Here I was feeling bitter about the amount of food I have to eat when in reality I am so blessed to even have food to eat, and not only enough food, but high quality food. As I was slicing away at the turkey, I felt gratitude for my new body and gratitude for the opportunity to be at Avalon so I can heal my relationship with food. Doing this service helped me shift my focus from ‘poor me’ to ‘Wow, there are so many people out there who are suffering and in need of help, and I want to spend my time making a difference in the world rather than just focusing on myself.’ I’m grateful that Avalon provides real life service opportunities like this to help remind us that even when life is hard, there are always things to be grateful for.”
In addition to the Avalon clients, families, college students, youth groups and older community members were among the smiling volunteers.
Between the meals served at the church and delivered to homebound community members, 385 people were nourished in body and soul.
To learn more about Loaves and Fishes, or to support their ongoing efforts, visit their website at http://cacheloavesandfishes.org/