“It’s the volunteers who get the real gift”

Coula Farris shares why she's been volunteering for more than a decade.

87-year-old Coula Farris has been a volunteer at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen for over 10 years. Every Wednesday, she can be found, cloth in hand, cleaning down the tables for our guests and replenishing their water and milk.

“I’ll do any job they need me to do but I like working at the tables best,” says Coula with her trademark twinkling smile.  “I love to talk to people and spend time interacting with the guests, I get the most enjoyment out of that.”

For Coula, a former Case Worker at Bellevue Hospital, spending time meeting and talking to new people was something she missed when she retired. Now a caregiver for her husband who is suffering from a long-term illness, Coula looks forward to her weekly volunteering as a chance to meet new people from all walks of life. “It’s not only the guests who get something here, you know,” she says, “it’s the volunteers who get the real gift.”

When I ask her if that’s why she keeps coming back, she smiles wider. “That, and because it’s so much fun,” she says. “Whatever you do in life, always remember to have fun.”

Good advice, and judging from the faces of the guests at the tables Coula’s looking after today, it’s rubbing off on them too.