Guest Post: Heart and Soul

Today’s post is brought to you by Host Mom Francesca Donlan.


This weekend we volunteered for a four-hour lunch shift at the Soup Kitchen in downtown Fort Myers. It’s a place where the homeless or those struggling to eat or provide food for their family can get a hot meal.
I should be clear and say, “I volunteered for my family,” which actually made them mad. They don’t like it when I make plans for them without asking. (I’m like that.)
I gave Katie a pass since her thumb was in a splint after a mishap during Dodgeball but I persuaded everyone else to go.
“Your hearts will be full at the end of the day,” I told them.
They hate it when I say stuff like that.
We chopped potatoes and did other prep work. Mike helped make huge pans of lasagna. Daniel and Joanna were on “the line” serving food alongside National Honor students from Mariner High School. There were two high school waitresses who took orders from the folks at the tables. I was a runner and delivered the food.
We worked steadily for a couple of hours. Joanna scooped salad onto trays with rice and cream chicken. Daniel added cookies, a sandwich and silverware. I delivered trays of food to the elderly, families, homeless and others. Some people wanted different sandwiches. A man in a wheelchair wanted juice. People were hungry and most were grateful. Some were just tired. Some didn’t want to talk.
Near the end of our shift, the crowd had thinned and we started cleaning up. Joanna noticed a piano. I told her to go for it. She was nervous at first but then gained confidence. Suddenly the Soup Kitchen was filled with beautiful music. She kept playing while Mike mopped the floors, Daniel and I wiped down tables and volunteers washed dishes and cleaned up. When Joanna finished, the guests and volunteers clapped. Some stood up. It brought out so many smiles.


Joanna has never seen a soup kitchen in China but she was impressed by the one in Fort Myers. We all were. I’m hoping we’ll volunteer again soon – and I will ask first. But it won’t be hard to get them back.