Monday, November 28, 2011

Make Love A Verb

Last night my family cooked dinner at  the Student-Run Emergency Housing Unit of Philadelphia.  The shelter is staffed by local college students who volunteer their time.  There are 36 guests at the shelter from November to April. A friend of ours is the faculty adviser for the project and she had put the call out for volunteers. So I had signed up for dinner last night and several of my co-workers agreed to help us with the purchasing and preparation of the food.

In the end, it ended up too many cooks, so a few people did the bulk of the work.  But that was fine, it wouldn't have worked otherwise. Plus, other people helped occupy my kids (bonus!).  My partner threw himself into making two giant lasagnas and I helped here and there by chopping vegetables and trying to locate utensils.  The wonderful parts had nothing to do with the food, although it was nice to see people enjoy food you had prepared (or at least purchased). 

I really enjoyed my kids interacting with the guests, especially little B playing catch with one man who just smiled and chuckled the whole time.  Several of the guests chatted with me about my boys, who were running all about the room throwing paper airplanes and coloring with crayons on the floor.  Having the kids there helped relax us all into being friendly and comfortable with each other.  Who doesn't love to see kids laughing and playing?!

This experience really came to be because my partner and I have been talking about finding ways to "live our values" and teaching our boys about giving to others. So when the opportunity presented itself I knew it was the right thing.  We got to do something concrete to help others and our kids could see us do it.  No preaching, no nonsense. Our boys also got to see the real people behind the label "homeless".  And so did we.

We are going back again on December 23rd, this time with my parents and brother with the two boys.  I want to share this experience with my family.  I want to try to spark in them the thing that has come alive inside me.  Now I want to help more.  I want to keep cooking dinners and looking for ways to raise donations, material and monetary.  My next project is goody/gift bags for the holidays.  I am going to try to collect as much as I can for the guests to get a little something special over the holidays.  I want them to feel cared for and loved.

But the thing I will take away from this more than all of that, is I love my partner more than ever.  Seeing him put his heart into cooking for strangers and being so gracious when he was thanked for cooking a great meal...well, it melted my heart a little more and made him six inches taller in my eyes. Giving as a couple or as a family can only strength the bonds.  So I hope this is our new holiday tradition. A way to honor our true values and share our good fortune.

A way to make love a verb.


  1. I am thinking about this for our kids a lot this holiday season. We've got a few small things to do, it's a start :)


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