Guest volunteers are Gathering guests who cross the serving line to also donate their time as volunteers. These individuals provide valuable insight, energy, dedication, compassion and expertise to the Gathering community. They offer something that nobody else can—experience at the table and behind the scenes. Over the past few months, I have had the privilege of sitting down with a number of guest volunteers to hear their stories. They have some pretty amazing words that capture the communal spirit of the Gathering better than I ever could.
“It’s a place where individuals can come, sit down, eat a good meal, enjoy themselves, fellowship with each other and just have a nice time. Be thankful and grateful for those they know and those they care for and to just be with each other. Eat a good meal and everything.” - Stephanie, Breakfast volunteer
“A lot of people don’t understand how homelessness is. People don’t know how hard it is. You can lose your job, all your money, just like that, it happens...I used to be homeless just like the guests. I feel like I need to give something back because I understand what it’s like.” - Robert, Breakfast volunteer
“See, I used to come here [to the Gathering’s breakfast site] back in the 80s before I started working again. I like it here for the simple reason that from the first time I started coming over here until now, Don’t matter who they have running it or who they have working it - they always have the same mentality that they had back then. And that mentality is to treat people... ...with dignity and remind them that they’re not an animal and that things get better. When you treat people with respect, and stuff like that, they tend to not think that they know better than anybody else, That they’re all the same, Everybody goes through certain things. That’s the way it was back then and it still holds true now the way they do it.” - Ray, Breakfast volunteer.
“Look at all the people that come here [to the Gathering’s dinner site]. I don’t know of anywhere else where you might be able to go and meet all of the different kinds of people that come here. We’re like one big adopted dysfunctional family. Maybe [the Gathering] is an idea, showing what cooperation could be like. If you leave the baggage at the door and everybody comes here and everybody gets together, who knows? You’ve seen what people do here...everybody comes and does whatever needs to be done. We realize the most important thing is that people get fed. And that’s basically where it starts. A person comes in, they’re hungry, and we feed ‘em. You’re going to get so much more back when you do that. I can sit here and preach to the choir but there is nothing like experiencing it for yourself” - Jeanne, Dinner volunteer
The Gathering’s guest volunteers are an amazing group of people. The stories they share and the dedication they bring to the table is incredible. Don’t believe us? Then follow Jeanne’s advice and come experience it for yourself.