During the past few years, I have watched how dining with our guests at the table has changed me.

#MyGivingStory begins as I first served nearly a decade ago behind a typical soup kitchen line, barely able to make eye contact, with our struggling neighbors. Today my favorite place is the reserved spot at Trinity Cafe to get to know our guests and hear their stories.

Nearly a decade ago, I was walking around with a broken heart to be honest. I had gone through a divorce and was searching for meaning and connection. I found my way back to my faith. Through my local church, I went on my first international mission to Guatemala.

In Guatemala, I fell in love with two little girls, named Kristi and Lisa. These two little girls would raise their hands up so high every day, yo quiero que leer, yo quiero que leer. I want to read, I want to read. They were hungry for knowledge, thirsty for education, and they loved to read. But my heart broke for them. Because when we left each day, I saw their mom washing their clothes in a dirty, polluted, trash strewn river that was their only source of drinking water in the community. My heart broke for this very basic need: for water.

When I returned home, I was different, my heart was different. I realized I could do more in my own backyard. That there were very basic needs: for food and shelter that I could help meet at home, so I started volunteering. I uncovered a heart for service through volunteering that I didn’t even know existed previously.

I have served with hunger and homelessness organizations for the past decade, but had not personally visited Trinity Cafe until 2015 when a friend and mentor, Thomas Mantz, introduced me to Jeff Darrey.

I had my “come to Trinity Cafe” moment when Jay, the volunteer coordinator on Friday, was sharing the welcome to a group of volunteers, and I was a part of them. He shared the gospel right out of Matthew 25, one of my favorite verses, he said the disciples asked Jesus, when did we feed you, clothe you and provide you shelter? And Jesus replied, when you did it to the least of these, you did it to me.

I am honored to serve at Trinity Cafe, and most importantly, build friendships in service with our guests, donors and volunteers. I give because it changes me.

I see every day how relationships around our dining room tables change not only our guests, our volunteers, our staff, but I personally see how it changes me.

 #MyGivingStory is summed up perfectly in a quote from Mahatma Gandhi,
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”