Senior Housing Division Service Coordinators Nancy Belisle, Maryellen McHenry, Barbara McKenzie, Tina Mueller, Jan Pennington, Jill Wagner and assistant manager Nancy Oppel assisted in serving the midday meal at Our Daily Bread recently. They also donated tea bags, books, and sugar after referencing the ODB wish list.

Maryellen McHenry said, “Nancy Belisle proposed the idea of a service project at the regular Service Coordinator meeting a few months ago. Our jobs revolve around providing service/services all day long, but I think we welcomed a change of pace. There seems to be interest in doing it again – maybe annually, and extending the offer to participate to others in the Housing division. We were there this month with a group of about 25 from Carmax, and WE want to be the big group next time we go!”

In their own words, each of the volunteers reflects on their very important day.

Jill Wagner wanted to participate for several reasons. “Team building experience with co-workers, get to see firsthand how ODB operates and what they do, and (best part) do something to give back to the community.  I have never volunteered or worked with the homeless so it was very eye-opening to see all the different types of people who came in.  Somewhat surprising how many people in Baltimore need a warm meal. Also, I was beyond impressed with how things were run at ODB. Of course they have their regulars but for the most part they have different volunteers and customers every day.  Yet, it all seems to run so smoothly with everyone knowing what to do. Impressive. I never once felt uncomfortable during service. The set-up is so honorable. It is the furthest thing from a ‘soup kitchen’ and felt more like casual dining.”

Jan Pennington added, “Some things that struck me about our visit was the fact that they hadn’t missed a day of meals since 1981– the year I graduated from college and a record that beats Cal Ripken – the well-orchestrated tasks that seemed surprisingly intimidating at first (even as a former waitress, I was so afraid that I might mess up!), the great role model the Christopher Place graduates must be for the other diners, and the observation that many people eat with their coats on and how sad it is that they don’t have a kitchen table to relax at. I can’t wait to do more and would love to start a collection of needs for ODB at Reisters View and Reisters Clearing.”

Nancy Oppel said, “No matter what kind of challenges you are facing in your personal life when you volunteer you see life from a different perspective. It makes me glad for the blessings I have.”

Maryellen McHenry said she was “impressed by how smoothly the day flowed – the small task we had in the morning to cut deli paper in half, the thorough and efficient overview of how the meal services is executed (everyone with their own task – no stepping out of your own lane!). It’s quite a knack to turn 27 volunteers who are mostly strangers and turn them into a team that runs like clockwork after only a 10-minute orientation! Once the doors were opened, I was taken by the smiles of the customers and how welcoming they were to us, the generosity and faithfulness of the regular Friday crew with whom we served, the Christopher Place men in their suits and ties… everything!“

Nancy Belisle learned that “ODB is very organized and knows how to help us work as a team to provide a great service. I learned that every age, gender and race can be in need of a hot meal. I learned that I love working with other Catholic Charities housing staff that are giving of their time, energy and smiles! I really liked looking around the room while we were serving and seeing other housing staff interact with the clients. It made me proud to be part of this team. The experience also made me proud to be part of Catholic Charities as a whole. The agency does such great important work in the community.”

Barbara McKenzie remembers “Thank you and have a blessed day”. “This is what I heard the most. However, to see the look in those eyes, to witness a level of such humbleness always moves my heart. To experience an individual that is truly thankful always stops me in my tracks and makes me a better person. I feel honored that these individuals allowed me to serve them. I can only pray that if I were to experience a similar life situation that I would have the strength to handle it with joy as some of these individuals I witnessed did. One man sang to us the whole entire time he ate. One man made a point to thank each one of his servers individually.”