We have a family service project, courtesy of Auntie X. No, Auntie is not the service project.
Auntie knows a woman who directs our area homeless accommodations. These shelters and short-term facilities include a facility for addicted veterans in a rehab setting. The vets need a myriad of things, but one of the things they need is to eat.
Now, the director has ensured that the vets will have food. But if she doesn't have to take it out of the funds appropriated for the vets, she can use the money for other things for them. Clothes for job interviews. Books and tapes that will improve the rehab process. Bus fare. Every penny that did not go into feeding the vets three squares a day could be used well elsewhere.
So, the director searched out volunteers. Auntie X sent an email, and we responded. We volunteered to cook supper once a week for a year.
The requirements for the meals are pretty simple: A main dish, a side dish, and a dessert for 15-20 people, cooked in our home. Due to confidentiality requirements, they would never know us and we would never know them. That's OK. The Mister delivers the completed meal, gets a receipt for it (always paperwork!) and comes back home on his way from a gig.
Our distance learning program does not have a Religion component. It is not an exclusively Catholic program. We are counting this effort as combined Religion and Life Skills.
So far, the kids have learned to chop onions, soak the onions first in cold water before chopping so the gas doesn't release, chop celery, wash the celery before chopping as it is hard to wash little pieces, cut things in the same size so that the pieces cook evenly, brown meat, broil meat, cook pasta without making it into mush, and make real pudding not pudding-out-of-a-box. Physical properties of milk, eggs, and cornstarch have been gleaned from Alton Brown (despite his nasty comments about the overweight). Peanut butter has been used in a satay as well as in cookies.
We reviewed Jesus words on the arrival to Judgment of souls who have fed those who were hungry in this life, where it states it is just the same as feeding Jesus. If we are feeding Jesus, we want the food to look its best, and taste its best. Jesus, through these veterans who have served our country, has been served rustic chicken cacciatore, taco salad bar, chili bar, London broil with mushrooms, meatloaf, green beans, scalloped potatoes, garlic mashed potatoes, lemon pie, and once when we were in a hurry, Neapolitan ice cream. Jesus has not been served liver, spinach, veal, bleu cheese, or canned olives, all food on the "yuck" list. Every week we say a prayer over the food for those who will eat it, before sending it off with the Mister. We aren't quite as joyful as we should be when it comes to cleaning the kitchen, but who is after the fun of actually making a meal.
The vets often wait for the Mister to arrive, so they can help him unload the meal. He doesn't say much to them except "Hi" and they don't say much back. One of the young men who works for the shelter group is a student of the Mister's. The student has told them that the Mister is a professor, that we are both vets, and nothing else. He's told the Mister that the vets can't wait for Friday, because they know they are going to be well-fed. So there is a temporal reward along with the eternal. It feels good to know we can train our kids in a very practical area of their lives, as well as developing their character.