Every day at 12 and 5, I go to the Baldwin Wallace Student Union for lunch and dinner. Some days are better than others, but usually I find myself wondering what the meals would be like somewhere else. Regardless of what I am eating, being around my friends at these hours and enjoying the time we have together is what I am most thankful for. The Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland provides this moment for friends and families around the Greater Cleveland Area.
This past week I was able to see firsthand the “why” of the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland. Many times I often find myself becoming so concerned with administrative work where I begin to forget the real reason why I am doing it. The Hunger Network is able to provide 60,000 meals a month, but what it provides with that meal is so much more. It provides a sense of community for everyone involved.
While volunteering at Community Corner, a hunger center in the Cleveland area, I was able to shadow Raul, a father who is about to graduate from the University of Akron with a degree in Business Administration, while also working as a staff member at the center. At the site, Raul greeted everyone who walked through the door. I could tell that his simple acts of personal communication were just as powerful as the food itself. As I learned more about Raul, I began to get the feeling that over his three years at Community Corner, he has learned just as much as I have in any of my classes. In college, it is often easy to get consumed by difficult classes and over-involvement; Raul clearly mastered this balance. As a passionate father, motivational leader, driven manager, and, most importantly, a friend, Raul leads by example, and he is someone that I strive to model. He is a prime example of the “why” of the Hunger Network, he does much more than help coordinate business at the hunger center, he fosters a sense of community that brings joy and creates happiness.
Getting to spend the afternoon in someone else’s shoes helped me see my life in another light. Many times I find myself “sleep walking” through my day going through my normal routine. It is easy to get into this pattern and, as a college student, my schedule is very tight, with little room for free time. With the rest of my last semester ahead of me, I plan on taking time to treasure my supportive surrounding community, and hopefully help others, like the Hunger Network has done to thousands in the Greater Cleveland Area.