WE MAKE A LIVING BY WHAT WE GET BUT WE MAKE A LIFE BY WHAT WE GIVE.

Madelyn - Carmichael, California
Entered on September 12, 2007

“We are family; I got all my sisters with me. We are family get up everybody and sing!” This classic Sister Sledge song was the tune that would most often be playing from the old Sony fm radio inside the dining halls of Loaves and Fishes. Every Saturday during this past Summer I would wake up at 6:30 a.m. rain or shine to get to our local homeless shelter in time to help serve breakfast. I would open the squeaky red door, put my apron on, wash my hands and begin working with the other volunteers. Our jobs varied from sweeping floors, folding napkins, chopping veggies, cooking meat, washing dishes, greeting guests, serving food, and cleaning up. It was hard work but the job became easier when I began making friends with all of our guests. We would laugh and tell stories together. I was known as their “little lady.” The young boys would never fail to ask me for second helpings of tamale pie even though they knew that was against the rules. I would do it anyway. While most of my friends would be looking forward to a trip to the mall on Saturday, I would get even more excited for my weekend plans at the shelter. The sacrifices of waking up early and giving my time at Loaves and Fishes paid off in a huge way when I would see the smiles on the faces of the needy parents and children. It made me feel so good inside to know that I was truly touching these people’s lives. Something as simple as a warm meal on a rainy day can make all the difference.

Inside our dining hall there were different bible verses painted on the walls in bright beautiful colors, my favorite one was Matthew 6:19-21 — “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I believe this verse is encouraging everyone to put their love into action by helping others. Because it is through loving one another and giving to each other that brings meaning and treasures to our lives.

Whenever I hear that old familiar song on the radio my mind can’t help but think back on my summer days of service. And on these cold rainy mornings I often stop and wonder what are they serving for breakfast? Who will be washing dishes today? And are my young boys staying out of trouble? I know that my work in this world will never truly be finished. But I am just so happy to have realized that the important things in life are not measured in dollars or cents but rather in degrees of happiness shared with others. Hopefully I will be able to continue to strive to improve the lives of others through my love of giving and maybe even encourage others to take part with me. After all, aren’t we all just members of one big family?