On a recent Saturday morning, Arrowstreet sent three volunteers to help staff the early shift at the Women’s Lunch Place. A privately funded, non-profit organization operated almost entirely by volunteers, the Women’s Lunch Place provides meals and other services on a daily basis to the homeless and underprivileged women of Boston. Their kitchen and cafeteria are housed in a pleasant and brightly-lit space which Arrowstreet helped renovate in 2011 in the basement of the Church of the Covenant on Newbury Street.
At 7am, we happily joined the kitchen crew, headed up by Chef Josh to help prepare and serve breakfast to over 100 women who visited the facility that morning. The daily operation of Women’s Lunch Place is a very smooth one and it was easy to jump right in. From Josh we learned that, as a privately funded facility, they enjoy a unique amount of freedom to really create the kind of environment that they want to offer their guests. The services and benefits they provide really contribute to a welcoming community.
Per their website, “Guests are welcome to access a range of social, educational, and advocacy services, which include personal care items, clothing, free on-site healthcare, classes, and field trips. Services are delivered in a manner that is sensitive to each woman’s needs and circumstances. While we aim to support those who wish to make changes in their lives, we understand that simply coming to the Lunch Place is an enormous step for some women.”
From our perspective, the job of volunteering couldn’t be more fun. We worked alongside several regulars stocking the cold and hot tables, refilling coffee makers, loading up ice, washing and chopping vegetables, and of course, serving guests their breakfast. There’s really nothing like working together in a volunteer capacity to get the fun conversation and goodwill flowing: we traded kitchen tips and got to know each other’s backgrounds. We found everyone to be warm, friendly, and very appreciative of our presence, and it felt good to know we could so easily make a solid contribution. It was a wonderful way to kick off the Memorial Day weekend.
Toward the end of our shift as we posed for an Arrowstreet photo, one of our new friends made a joke which I took as a challenge: with a sort of wry smile she quipped that “none of the people who take pictures ever come back again.” (She knows this from experience because she herself has been volunteering in the washroom for nearly 20 years!) I resolved in that moment that this would not describe me, and I would definitely be joining them again soon and bringing more friends along to help.