Martha’s Table (KY)

“Any person can bring happiness through volunteering”

By K.Y.

Background Information
Martha’s Table is an organization aimed to support D.C. families in need through providing good education, food, and opportunity. It has already been 33 years since Martha’s Table started working in the community as a savior for local homeless people and low income residents, and now more than 10,000 people a year from local schools and businesses take part in the organization’s programs as volunteers, learning about the importance of helping other people. The main office is located in D.C., few blocks away from where Martha’s Market, one of the programs of Martha’s Table and the one we took part in, was held.

Our Experience
After we arrived at the gym of Rita Bright Center, we headed to a small room next to the gym where we heard a few things about the program from a staff member and received an apron. Then, our service as a volunteer at Martha’s Table began in the gym. Basically, what all of us did was to hand out food supplies to people who are making a long line along the tables. The kinds of food we handed out were various. Some handed out rice and fruits, others handed out cereal and milk, or some even had to explain about the kinds of vegetables they can choose from and then put them in plastic bags. The service continued from 11 am to 1 pm, until there was no longer a line and we were told to move all the equipment from the gym. Finally, we picked up trashes around the gym and were dismissed.

The Big Ideas
When we all went into the gym, the first thing that I noticed was that every one, including those who came to receive foods and those who were handing out foods, had smile on their face and the gym was filled with enthusiasm. I could understand why staffs and volunteers giving out foods were smiling, but since I had the image or stereotype of people facing economical hardship as depressing and unhappy people, I couldn’t understand why people in need seemed like the happiest group of people with no problem. However, as we continued volunteering, I understood why. Some of the others felt the same thing as I did while we were there, so we came up with big ideas like “Personality doesn’t connect to wealth” and “The experience broke previous stereotypes of poor people not being enthusiastic.” By the time we left, we all knew how actually meeting and communicating with people could correct our wrong images and stereotypes towards certain group of people.

Through the experience, we came up with as many as 11 lessons that we felt we were able to learn. As a result of voting, we came to the conclusion that “Any person can bring happiness through volunteering” was the biggest idea we came up with. Unlike jobs, volunteering is not something that requires special abilities or anything and you do not have to be qualified for it. Through volunteering you can learn many things, and all it takes is your time! It can also bring happiness just like the one we saw right after we went into the gym, and bringing happiness for other people can fill you full of joy and happiness, which are priceless. So, we decided that this was our biggest idea we should present specifically.