Today our group had helped with the food pantry at Our Lady Queen of Peace. And I have to say, of all the food drives or charity work I've ever done, I don't think I've ever been so intimidated helping people.
The population we were serving mainly came from Latino/Hispanic background and knew very little English. I found this experience to be intimidating because I know very little Spanish (*thank you kindergarten Spanish class and Dora the Explorer for the basic knowledge...)
People were coming at me asking me a whole bunch of questions about the items from the cart I had and I felt so helpless. In a way I kind of knew what they were saying because they would point to things but all i could respond with was "uno cosa (one item)", "no able Espanol", or desperately point at a volunteer who knew Spanish and say "Espanol!" hoping they would get the message to go talk to them about it. (At one point I almost started speaking in German.)
Yesterday our AFAC tour guide had told us about maintaining the dignity of people in poverty and the limited quantities they had at the food bank was a harsh reminder that they were in poverty and were limited by their options.
Even though the food pantry was intimidating because of my lack of Spanish, interacting with the customers was insightful. It showed me how helpful services such as a food pantry are to a community. Often a person in poverty doesn't have enough money to buy a lot of food from the store to sustain themselves or their families and so a food pantry is just a mechanism to getting the help they need to survive. I know a lot of people have this idea that poor people are lazy and don't work (I know I've had this view before) but honestly these people who i met today were so sweet and just regular people trying to get by.
So far I have loved everything about this parish and all the good things it has brought to this community. it's got its act together and it's beautiful to see how much they have done in the area.