The most rewarding experiences I have ever had all come from the simple act of volunteering. My parents were always very involved in volunteer efforts, especially my father. I could see the joy he felt in giving to others. It wasn’t always money but sometimes time or talents. Being my dad was a contractor he always offered to help our church with building projects. Then it expanded into helping organizations like Teen Challenge and Convoy of Hope. He would often bring me along when volunteering and insisted I get involved at a young age. He was the one who got me involved in my largest volunteering venture as well cooking challenge yet.
A family friend of ours is Pastor of a great church that does a lot of wonderful work. They wanted to raise money to build a kitchen that would enable them to feed senior citizens in the community. They organized a top chef type of event and were looking for participants. My dad eagerly accepted the challenge and then broke the news to me later on. The idea of feeding 300 people seemed impossible to me. I am a home cook, not a caterer! I think my largest party was 30 people. The numbers aside, 300 people were going to be judging and commenting on my food. They had no obligation to say they liked it, could I withstand such judgment? These were my first mistakes. Volunteering is never about you, but who you are reaching.
As I was attempting to plan for this event there was always that nagging thoughts such as, “how am I going to pull this off?” Every step of the way I was nervous but I knew there was a reason why I said yes. It is funny how God uses one event to propel you to the next. I ended up successfully serving everyone and winning the contest to my surprise. You can view two of my recipes here: Chocolate Panna Cotta and Marsala Stuffed Mushrooms .
The best part of all this was not winning as one might expect. However, the event went on to raise enough money to build the kitchen. Months later I returned to see the kitchen and volunteer for the senior lunches. To see the smiles on the faces of people I served was a tremendous feeling. The people I worked with in the kitchen were dedicated and I learned from them as well. Turns out one person worked in fine dining for years and taught me how to serve soup without having the ladle drip! Now I use the trick daily haha! The menus created are these gorgeous 3-4 course menus. Things like caramelized onion tarts, shrimp salad, and eggplant soup. These lunches are worthy of 5 stars and makes the seniors feel special. There is no doubt this little kitchen is going to do big things!
Doing something good sometimes takes us out of our comfort zone or feels like a risk. Maybe it is just smiling at stranger when you are a shy person by nature. Maybe its committing time out of your already too busy schedule. Whatever the case, no matter how difficult or impossible you may think it is, well, it’s not. The smallest gesture can make the biggest difference. What better reason to put yourself on the line, but to help a greater good? What good would DishItGirl be without me being able to bless others? I challenge you to do something good on purpose each day!
This post is sponsored by United Healthcare. All opinions expressed are my own.