Voice of a Volunteer: Edward
Edward, who volunteers three days a week at the soup kitchen, has cared deeply about the well-being of his fellow New Yorkers ever since moving to the city when he was just 18 years old.
“I loved New York immediately when I moved here,” he remembers. After attending City College, Edward worked for the New York State Workers Compensations Board of Appeals. “I got to make sure that peoples’ lives didn’t fall apart… What better job can you ask for?”
When he retired, Edward found himself with a lot of free time on his hands. A friend of his who worked at the soup kitchen told him about volunteering here and Edward was immediately intrigued with the idea.
“My first reaction was, ‘I don’t like to make commitments!’” Edward recalls with a hearty laugh.
After his friend assured him that he could volunteer whenever it was most convenient for him, Edward decided to take the leap. “Well, the other volunteers were so friendly – I kept coming back!” he says.
Now, thirteen years later, Edward is a volunteer coordinator, welcoming new and regular volunteers, assigning jobs, and helping the soup kitchen run smoothly three days a week. “I’ve made friends here. We’ve been in each other’s lives for years. It’s very enriching.”
The community of guests and volunteers has touched Edward’s life in countless ways, including, he recalls, when a guest appreciated a very simple gesture, one that many of us would take for granted.
“One day I greeted one of our guests and I put my hand on his shoulder, saying ‘Good Morning’” he explains.“The guest replied ‘Thank you!’ … and then proceeded to tell me how much it meant to be welcomed.”
The man then told Edward, “When I am on the street I am invisible.”
“That incident was very meaningful to me,” Edward recalls. While Edward finds meaning in his work at the soup kitchen, his kindness has made a difference to thousands of guests and volunteers his work has touched throughout the years.