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Catherine Newman: Loves volunteering at Amherst Survival Center


Thursday, August 24, 2017
Loves volunteering at Survival Center

This is not the first letter I’ve written about the Amherst Survival Center, and I’m sure it won’t be the last, but I am writing again simply to say how much I love volunteering there.

I’ve been serving lunch once a week for the past four years, and this work has become an anchor for me. Whatever else is happening, I know that, come Thursday lunchtime, I’ll be surrounded by a community I love in a space that always feels warm, welcoming, and safe.

Especially now, during what is for me a scary and uncertain political time, I feel more than ever the deep value of taking care of each other. Life is precarious, but the Survival Center is there for us if and when we need it.

Is the work always easy? Of course not. Nothing valuable ever is. But it is soul-nourishing in a way that is, at least in my life, unmatched.

My 17-year-old son has been volunteering with me this summer, and he feels it too. “What’s your favorite thing about it?” I just asked him, and he said, “The people.” Then, because he is a teenager, he added, “Oh, and the food is always really good and exciting.”

This is a kid who heaped his own plate one recent Thursday with baked ziti, corn, enchilada casserole, and barbecued tofu, and then ate every last bite.

Someone in the kitchen was teasing me about dragging him in to volunteer, but when I explained that he was there to get school community-service credit, he was quick to correct me: “And because I love it here!” He does.

Sign up for a painless, informative volunteer training — and then join us. You’ll love it too.

Catherine Newman

Amherst