Alternative Winter Break 2016 Post Blast From the Past – AWB 2012
By Sharon Schoenfeld
Today was the perfect day to dedicate to those who could not share it with their families. The teens of AWB had been split up and assigned to either one of two old-age homes or work at a homeless shelter. My first request was the soup kitchen, and it was granted.
Upon arrival, grateful nuns welcomed us, thanked us for joining and gave us a tour of operations. The work the institution does and the services they provide are
incredible. They attend to many of the less fortunate and restore the faith these persons had lost throughout their hardships. The organization helps first-time homeowners, provides medical attention, provides hygienic services, and, on weekdays from 12pm to 1pm, lunch.
After the tour, we AWBers gathered in the kitchen. We made an assembly line and got packing. We made over 100 plates to serve. As the guests waited on line to get their food, myself and other participants struck conversations with them and sung songs for the time of year. Once everyone got their food, participants moved to the eating area and conversed with the guests
Questions were flying in the atmosphere; stories were being exchanged. I had spoken to a
couple – whose relationship status was unidentified – who had traveled from Texas to Florida, and everywhere in between. They seemed grateful for the company.
Next, I spoke to a man from Virginia and discussed the difference between Virginia and West Virginia. We had an intense and informative American History session.
The last man I spoke to seemed to be on his way out, in which I wished him a “Happy New Year.” He stopped to chat however – which I did not expect. I asked how he liked the food, and from there we got to my pesquetarianism (vegetarian, but I eat fish). He seemed genuinely concerned with my health, thinking that it was in danger due to my lack of consumption of meat. He was quite relieved when I told him I ate fish.
We talked about languages, about the city of New Orleans (particularly the French
Quarter and its history), but most of all, food. He must have “blessed” me ten times, asking God to have me eat meat. He explained where he lived, in the Swamp, where he had learned at 13how to kill a snake, eat it, and use it as a belt. He wanted to “go out on the town” with us, so he could show us the city, but we strategically avoided the arrangement. He thanked me for talking to him and went on his way.
Talking to the faithful people at Lantern Light was wonderful – the guests were very thankful for the meal they were getting and some of those who I had spoken to had helped a lot after Katrina hit. Many of them were sincere in their wishes for a happy new year and thanked the Sisters and us profusely. This was a true adventure and experience in which I, and the other AWBers, learned a lot from.
~ Jenny Shub is from Puerto Rico and is now a sophomore at Emory University.