Uptown Cafe

the day before my birthday i volunteered at uptown café for the first time . this is a kosher anti-hunger program supported by jewish united fund. this is the sort of thing i talk about doing but never actually do (usually around thanksgiving) but this time i had resolve and fallow through. this particular volunteer opportunity coordinated by birthright next.

they are a wonderful organization i have been trying to get more involved with and failing miserably. i recently got excepted to go to an weekend retreat with them, eco shabbat, and can no longer attend to due new job training that weekend. it would have been wonderful to spend a weekend meeting peers who are like minded and driven for sustainability. however i digress.

uptown is not set up like a food kitchen. i feel that it shows more respect to the people that come there then that. it is restaurant style and the clients sit at tables, there are menus, and the volunteers bring the food. after all are served the volunteers sit and eat with the clients. the people that come to the café are not only in need of a hot meal but positive social interaction. some are low income, some are physically or mentally disabled, some have phd’s, some are immigrants.

personally for me it was an extremely humbling experience. chicago can be a cold and isolating city. we are extremely untrusting of strangers, do not make eye contact, and always have head phones in. to be completely honest some of the people i served i would have secured my purse if they sat down next to me on the ‘l’. that’s just a closed minded way of thinking but however we are somewhat conditioned that way.

it was a pleasure to sit and talk to the people at my table. Unfortunately, i can’t go into to much detail due to the confidentially agreement i singed. but the café and the people really made me think about the way i interact with strangers on the street. the people at my table were good honest people that have had a few issues and some bad luck in life. i defiantly will volunteer there again in the near future. it will help me progress to being a more patient, less judgmental person. a better person. isn’t that what we are all striving for anyways?                            


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