At Met Council’s free lunch for low income seniors, the food is not the main attraction. It comes in second to the opportunity to socialize with friends and volunteers. Sure, the seniors love not having to cook or pay for food on Sunday morning but they get much more when they come to the Met Council Sunday Lunch Program.
A few weeks ago, I volunteered at the lunch program for the first time. I went in thinking that I would just be piling meatballs onto spaghetti all afternoon. Yet, I found myself spending the bulk of the time sitting with the patrons, complaining about New York public transit. Yes, I did do more meatball piling than my average Sunday, but it was worth a little tomato sauce stain on my white shirt to bring some young spirit to the lives of the seniors.
As I left the building when the lunch was over, I felt good knowing that I had helped, and I was pretty sure that the seniors appreciated it too. I found out for sure when I walked into the Grand Central main concourse on my way home and bumped into one of the women, Maria, that I had just served at lunch. She was watching the Mexico versus Argentina game on one of the plasma screens set up around the information booth for the World Cup. When she saw me she exclaimed, spread her arms out, and gave me a hug. I knew then that she had appreciated my help.
My train wasn’t leaving for another half hour so I stayed and watched the game with her. She explained to me her conflict concerning who to root for. She likes Mexican culture, so she wanted to root for Mexico. But, she is from Colombia, and Argentina is near there so she felt obligated to root for Argentina. We continued to schmooze until my train was about to leave. I left her feeling like I had started a new relationship that I would cultivate on many Sundays to come.