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    Importance of Service

    Importance of Service by NiCole Hill of The Group Real Estate
    The opportunities that come to us are blessings, but I find seeking the opportunities to help others is where the gratification is. The pursuit of happiness can be found in the path of service and serving others. The feeling of giving of yourself is something you need to experience for yourself. If someone were to ask what it felt like I could never come close to describing the feeling. I know you are probably wondering were Can I begin or how do you get started ….
    I had many opportunities to be able to serve at our local Refuges and Shelters throughout the past years. Our community has many homeless shelters and havens that always could use a hand or two. It is a very humbling and rewarding experience. We like to get others involved and do group service projects. People often wonder how they can get involved. I will provide information below. They are open daily and you can actually go and serve all the time. They do fill up at times which is always good to hear that there is a lot of volunteers.
    There are many ways to help by cooking the dinner right there at the shelter. They have ingredients on hand. Also you can make things in the comfort of your Home and bring them to serve. You can also serve the food which is a great way to interact and learn about the people we are helping. There are a lot of people that have fallen on tough times that come enjoy a hot meal and the company of others. They also have jobs and look for comfort in others that may be experiencing the same challenges. I know the guests feel like they can come get a homemade meal and not be judged. Sometimes that is the only meal they get in a day. It is not only about the free meal, but they also give of themselves to help clean or repair the Shelter itself. There is many that just look for the social aspect because they have no family. Their loneliness void is filled for the time being.
    One of the experience came when my family served Thanksgiving Dinner to a group of 80 or more. We had been preparing the day before with salads, cakes and pies. The day of Thanksgiving we entered the Shelter with the aroma of Turkey. The shelter prepared the Turkey there and other items. The anticipation while we set the tables for the doors to open was like Christmas morning. Pitchers of waters were filled and set on tables . We added some last minute decor to the tables to add that Holiday feel. There was music playing and smiles passed to others as we prepared to serve the guests. The time came around for the doors to open. The guests filed in single file and seated themselves around familiar friends. The smells hit their senses and they were vocal on how it smells so good. They started shedding their layers from being outside most the day. There was every walk of life from babies to senior citizens. One thing in common they were all hungry. They couldn’t wait to fill their stomachs with the amazing smells that filled the room.  The room was filled with happiness and conversations. Each and everyone had a smile ear to ear.
    The Director of the Shelter shared some kind words and we prayed on how we are thankful for the hands that prepared this dinner and how hearts will open up to be able to receive the love. A unison AMEN echoed in the room.
    It was time to eat. The line was formed and plates in hand. We each manned a station from vegetables, salads, mashed potatoes, gravy and desserts. As we served each guest the heart filled smiles and thank you’s came and so did tears. I think of how much I take for granted the simplest things in life and how a smile and a plate of food can change someone’s whole outlook. Honestly for me serving others becomes addicting and that the more you give of yourself the more that it becomes a part of you. You find yourself serving and giving and not realizing you are making efforts to do so.  I love that
    We had the chance to talk to a few of the guests and hear their stories of “I would never have thought I would be here.” They had families and their children were there eating Thanksgiving dinner. They too served at shelters many years ago. They were slowly getting back on their feet, but wanted their children to experience Thanksgiving his way. The love that filled the room was priceless. Afterwards everyone came together to help clean things up and it felt like one Big family. Everyone had full belly and was in a turkey coma. They layered on their coats to head back to the streets. So curious to where they went and if they would be OK. That was their way of life though and had adapted to the routine. I found out some had a roof over their head, but some didn’t. Some shared places in the parks or under bridges.
    We then gathered around and ate our meal and shared our favorite moment in serving that day. Not only did we grow together we grew with a better understanding of people’s circumstances and how we can add value to their lives by just a smile in crossing. We can come together and serve one another leaving a lasting moment.
    City of Refuge
    840 Park Avenue
    Idaho Falls,  Idaho 83402

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