By Heather DeCarlo, Multichannel Internal Sales Consultant, Whippany, NJ
It was my first time volunteering at the Morristown Community Soup Kitchen and honestly, I had no idea what to expect. Walking up the driveway I initially felt a sense of sadness. Having an empathetic personality and being vastly sensitive by nature, I was nervous to enter the building. But, when I walked in, I immediately felt a sense of comfort.
The large room was filled with communal tables decorated with flowers and colorful tablecloths. Many of the seats were already filled with people conversing. It was a safe spot for these individuals, a place where they didn’t feel alone. As cliché as it might sound, it was a sense of community like I’ve never felt before.
I was directed to the huge kitchen in the back where Ms. Betty, who had just celebrated her 75th birthday, greeted me and my group of Bayer colleagues who were there to volunteer as part of Bayer Community Service Day 2019.
Bayer Community Service Day
An annual event when Bayer employees across the United Sates go out into the communities where they live and work to volunteer at non-profit organizations.
Ms. Betty was full of energy and exuded passion for helping others. She was also no nonsense, so we got to work right away helping prep for the large crowd of lunchtime guests. Throughout the day, she shared her experiences and it brought everything together for us. She explained the soup kitchen has been open every single day since 1987. This includes during Hurricane Sandy, blizzards and all holidays. Not one day in 32 years has the facility been closed. To know that people like Ms. Betty dedicate their lives to helping others is nothing short of inspirational. It made me personally want to be better. It’s easy to get caught up in this busy world we live in and sometimes forget how many people could use your help.
While my team and I were serving lunch to the almost 100 guests, the smiles and gratitude on their faces made us feel connected to the bigger purpose.
More than a soup kitchen
The Community Soup Kitchen and Outreach Center in Morristown, NJ, provides nutritious meals in a warm, safe and caring environment, free of charge, no questions asked, to anyone who comes seeking nourishment. As part of their hospitality, they also encourage and assist their guests in accessing community resources, services and educational programs.
They also host free farmers markets on Mondays and Fridays. Supermarkets provide an array of food from fresh fruits and vegetables to meats, which is provided to individuals and families so they are able to have substantial healthy meals throughout the week.
In 2018, the Morristown Soup Kitchen served more than 77,000 breakfasts and lunches and have also provided more than 650,000 pounds of food guests to take home. Additional resources include mental health counseling, substance abuse outreach, outreach to veterans, employment counseling, an annual job fair and housing. Additional resources such as daily living assistance provide vital information about how to access food stamps, nursing consultations and health screenings, emergency assistance for food, clothing and basic necessities, English as a second language classes and translation services.
To read guest stories and learn more about this wonderful outreach center, visit: https://nourishnj.org/what-we-do/guest-stories.html
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson