Cooking for the homeless

Every Saturday night is a surprise dinner night at the all men’s shelter in Amsterdam East. This Saturday, volunteers from Serve the City were going to deliver the surprise meal, so naturally the kitchen was bursting with activity when I showed up.

Katarzyna, Kumar, and Shirley were busy peeling and chopping vegetables for a meal for 40 people. They had about two hours to make a creamy crochet spinach pasta and a salad – dishes chosen by the project’s coordinator, Shirley. Like her kitchen colleagues for the day, she was going to cook for such a a large group for the first time.

Despite the challenge, they all enjoyed volunteering. Kumar, for example, loved cooking as a hobby in his spare time.

Katarzyna was happy to spend some extra time with her colleague from work, Shirley. And Shirley enjoyed volunteering, even with her busy schedule because “you get to meet other people.”

The 24-hour shelter serves as a springboard for the men (currently 50) to get back on their feet, “find their peace…[and] find power to grow as human beings.” If all goes well, they eventually move on to regular housing. While in the shelter, its residents receive tasks, like assisting with meal preparation for everyone. One of them shared that he has helped with making soup and also remembers eating a tasty meal by Serve the City volunteers several weeks ago.

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