Don’t know if you have seen the nice article on the main WFU web site about the Pro Humanitate Institute – if not, do read it. “The new Institute is consolidating Wake Forest’s various community engagement efforts, including the former Institute for Public Engagement, which sponsored teaching and research along with local outreach, as well as the former Office of Service and Social Action, which facilitated opportunities for students to connect with the community, serve others and explore social-justice issues.”
We don’t just talk a lot about our motto of Pro Humanitate (“for humanity”); our campus community members live out Pro Humanitate in so many ways, large and small, public and private. I am a big believer in our mission and had an opportunity to link up with one of the terrific projects we support on campus – this one is Campus Kitchen.
The idea behind Campus Kitchen is to use local food from campus and other sources to cook meals for people in need. Today I worked a shift in the kitchen where I helped prepare a meal for Prodigals, a program in town for men in recovery from substance abuse.
Campus Kitchen has an office in Benson (but is soon moving to their own lounge in a Quad residence hall). There were four of us volunteering – two current students who are regular volunteers, and a librarian from ZSR and myself – the two newbies. The CK volunteers loaded a big cart full of cooking supplies and food and we went to the Benson Center catering kitchen to get to work.
We were preparing a meal for 18 men at Prodigals. Today’s menu was vegetables (a mix of very good looking French green beans and some frozen mixed vegetables), chili with a couple of different kinds of beans plus chicken; a potato casserole dish, and molasses cookies. The two students helped us get acclimated to the kitchen and we quickly divvied up the jobs – potato cutting, chicken cutting, cookie making.
The process of cooking with strangers was surprisingly delightful. Everyone chatted and talked a little about their Wake Forest experience, all the while talking about some of the work CK does, peppered in with the intermittent reminders about food safety, proper temperatures, etc. We cooked together and cleaned up together, everyone doing their part. It was a really beautiful hour and half of community togetherness working toward shared goals.
At the end of the shift, when all the food was cooked and ready, we took it back to the Campus Kitchen office, where it will be stored until it is time to be delivered. One of the students told us about the Prodigals agency – she said if you ever want to go there on a Sunday afternoon and volunteer, they are the nicest guys you will ever meet. They will remember you, and remember your name, and will be nice and so grateful for the help. I could tell from my fellow volunteers that they liked to cook, liked to serve, liked to be doing something for someone else. These were terrific people – and as an alumna I am proud to call them Wake Foresters.
After I got back to my office, an email was waiting from the CK automated sign up system: “We rely on volunteers to run 15 weekly shifts, serve over 900 monthly meals, and rescue more than 3,000 pounds of produce a month! We hope you had a great experience with us and that you will come back, bring friends, and think about growing your commitment in the future. ”
This was a fun gig. I will be back. And I hope as your students get back in the fall, they’ll consider trying this once or twice. Pro Humanitate is good for the soul.
Two other quick items:
1) work is going on at the top of Wait Chapel – looks like painting or wood repair. I took this picture on the way back from my cooking shift. That is a crazy high up scaffold.
2) the Wake website is going to be down for part of the day on the 26th and 27th. So if you try to access our web sites then, you are going to see some redirecting to other sites. Not to worry, this is temporary. Here are the details: “Due to planned network maintenance, many WFU.EDU websites will be unavailable on Saturday, July 26 from 4 p.m. until 2 a.m. Sunday, July 27. While maintenance work is taking place, the campus computing network will not be available. Additionally, most computing services, such as Google Mail, WIN, Sakai, and Banner will not be available. If an emergency occurs during this time, information will be available on the Wake Alert website at wakealert.wfu.edu.”