Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate November 2001

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Today is a day that I will never forget. This particular day will be forever imprinted in my mind for many reasons. Maybe because of all the wonderful new people I encountered. Or maybe because I was able to witness the hardships that people must endure everyday. Or maybe just because I helped these people to have a better life by interacting with them. Sure, it was only a little part of the day, but these three short hours seemed to make all of the difference in the world to help these homeless people. (94) As Paul Parr and I strolled into the Francis/Sienna House, I was hit by a whole new environment. A bunch of people were all crowded into this semi-small room, conversing about many different things. All of the people seemed to look pretty friendly, despite the quality of their clothes or their hairstyle. So there we were, sticking out like two sore thumbs.

"Are you ready, Paul?" I questioned. (163) "Yep," was his reply, and we were off to meet some new people. (176) The first person I decided to approach was a guy named Phil. The reasons I approached this man were that he looked very easy to talk to and he had an "89.7 the River" t-shirt on. Phil didn't tell me his last name, but it didn't mean anything compared to the stories he told. After introducing myself, he began to tell me stories about what life is like for him. Everyday he helps serve dinner at the Francis/Sienna House because he said, "If they are going to feed me, the least I can do is help them out too." Phil then told me about how he had never had his own place to stay. He did admit that his main problem was his addiction to alcohol, and that he wishes he could stop, but it is sometimes the only thing there is for him to do. This conversation seemed like it was the most touching story I had ever heard: it almost sounded like it was right out of a movie script, but it wasn't. It was all true, and I began to see that I take many things for granted that I have. I thanked him for his time, and Paul and I got ready to serve our new friends. (386) The thing I liked about how this place was set up is that the people didn't just walk through a line to get their food: we had to walk it over to their table. I liked this form of service because most of these people have never been "served" before in their life. I also was glad that it was done this way because it gave us a chance to talk to everybody while we served them. (They all seemed to have the nicest manners!) (471) After furnishing them with their food, we walked around and assisted anyone with anything they needed help with. Some people asked us our names and told us that we were good gentlemen. However, one lady startled me a little. She told me to come over by her because she had to tell me something. I slowly walked over to her and she told me that I looked exactly like her friend sitting with her at the table. The thing that startled me about this is that her friend was an old LADY! All I could do is agree with her and smile. I later found out that the lady I have just mentioned was addicted to some bad drugs, and I felt sorry for her. Before she left, she made sure to thank me and told me that she would see me next time. I look forward to seeing her again. (622) After we served this first group of sixty people, we cleared all of the tables and set them back up again for the next group to enjoy. This occurred three times, so in the end we had helped 180 people. That made me feel extremely good about myself: I had helped the homeless have a better day. (676) After all of the people had left, we helped put everything away, said our good-byes, and then walked out the doors. What I saw ahead of me made my stomach jump almost right out of me: some of the people we had just served were surrounded by three police cars. One of the supervisors said that it was probably a drug problem and that nothing would happen. Still, this experience helped me reach my peak of excitement for the day. I truly then did realize just how lucky I am to have a nice home to stay in.