I was blessed with the opportunity to volunteer at the Jubilee Center earlier this month. I registered through a volunteer organization called Hands On Broward and committed to offer my help from 8 am to 1 pm. I worked a flight to Ft. Lauderdale and had a 23 hour layover which meant enough time do something productive and positive. I must admit, I had a long night , the night before and after finally making it to bed and setting an alarm for just four hours later; I began to talk myself out of what I committed to. You know the moment when you start reasoning and explaining to yourself all the perfectly good excuses as to why it is ok to miss this , just this one time of course. I was tired and definitely could have spent my layover at the hotel , relaxing and binge watching Real Housewives reruns (don't judge me) . Despite these natural thoughts, I reminded myself, I made a commitment. I made one not just to the center, on behalf of Hands On, but to myself. This was important and this little conflicted moment, I knew, would set the tone for the goals I was trying to achieve. Give more of me!
I was nervous walking in because A. I'm weird about doing new things and B. I didn't know what to expect with feeding the homeless community. Immediately , I met an Italian woman named Frenchie (cue Grease fans ). She was really friendly , as she instantly offered me a seat next to her cutting carrots for the salads. She entertained me with her millions of stories about her past , family and her commitment to going to the center daily while she awaited a call for a potential full time job. She broke down the rules and routines of the center as we continued to prep some of the food that would soon be served. Stacey was the talented chef who cooked all the large entrees such as spaghetti, jerk chicken and baked potatoes with all the toppings. We set everything up and had a variation of the food I just mentioned, along with salad, soup and even dessert. Majority of the food had been donated by local grocery stores and other organizations in full support of making sure these wonderful people of the community , had at least one great meal for the day. The center holds an extensive pantry of canned goods , perishable and non perishable items as well as donated clothes , all to serve the community.
After the set up , a person is chosen to lead the group and recipients in prayer. Frenchie, of course, was chosen. She delivered words of encouragement to the group and reminded everyone that although times may be hard today , in one second all circumstances can change. Just have faith!The rest of the day went as you could probably imagine . We served about 70 people a beautiful hot meal , cold juice and even offered sandwiches and cereal bars to go. Most people were so grateful and as they thanked me for being there, I began to have several waves of different emotions. Some moments were a surge of happiness. I was proud of myself! Some moments were a glimpse of sadness as I wondered how they could have reached this point. Any one of them could easily be my cousin , brother or even my grandparents.I then realized I was judging them as if they couldn't be me ! Any series of events could cause a domino effect where I could be walking that line , grateful for my first (possibly only ) meal of the day.
The day was filled with gratitude from me towards the center and all the other volunteers who sacrificed their time and binge worthy TV moments for a greater cause. I forgot how tired I was or the flight I was scheduled to work back to San Francisco . Being in that moment , surrounded by those only interested in giving their hearts energized my spirit in a way that simply put , felt so damn good !
Jubilee Center Of South Broward
Address: 2020 Scott Street , Hollywood , FL 33020
Executive Director: LeAnna Vasquez
Volunteer Hours: Monday - Friday , 8:00 am - 1:00 pm