Northern Division: Serving every county in Minnesota and North Dakota
two volunteers serving a hot meal at Harbor Light Center

Volunteer humbled serving at Harbor Light

Added on Monday, March 26, 2018

Written by Shelby Fehringer, Donor Relations Assistant for The Salvation Army Northern Division

Have you ever had to wonder where your next meal would be coming from?

For many of us, a hot meal is something we take for granted or even come to expect. But for those who eat at The Salvation Army Harbor Light Center in downtown Minneapolis, a meal makes an incredible difference in their day and their future.

I experienced their gratitude firsthand when I served meals at Harbor Light recently. It was amazing to see the staff and other volunteers like me come together to bring warmth and smiles to those down on their luck and experiencing homelessness.

volunteers slicing onions at Harbor Light CenterWe started our day by prepping food for the lunch and dinner meals: chopping onions, slicing cheese, and displaying desserts. To my surprise, there was an abundance of fresh produce and desserts. These items were offered through partnerships The Salvation Army has with local grocery stores that donate food to the kitchen.

What an incredible blessing!

I joined volunteers in helping serve food and milk to guests walking through the hot meal line, which gave us a great opportunity to have light conversations with some of the guests. One volunteer shared a story of a man living at Harbor Light who just got a job. Currently, this man’s priority is to make enough money to get his own place. This man is hopeful and excited at the thought of becoming self-sufficient. While listening to the volunteer talk about this man, it was clear the volunteers at Harbor Light cared deeply for the people they were serving, along with The Salvation Army’s mission.

After everyone finished eating their meals and the tables were cleared, we helped store leftover food, making sure nothing went to waste. The staff even set aside meals for those who worked during the meal hour so that they could have a hot meal to come back to later. What a thoughtful thing to do!

Immediately after clean-up, we prepped salmon patties for dinner. The “all hands on deck” mentality between staff and volunteers allowed for a lot of accomplishment in such a short window of time. There was constantly movement in the Harbor Light kitchen.

brenda turnerOne of the most impactful people in the kitchen was Brenda Turner (pictured right), the lead cook, whom I had the pleasure of meeting and working with. If you are unfamiliar with Brenda’s story you can read it here. She spent eight months in the Harbor Light program in 2005 and now works full-time and lives on her own. Working alongside Brenda was truly inspiring. She was so lively and charismatic that is was difficult to imagine her any other way.

She is a true testament to the help that The Salvation Army provides.

I am grateful for the opportunity to volunteer at Harbor Light. It was truly humbling to experience the work The Salvation Army is doing for those in need in our community.

How to help

If you’d like to join The Salvation Army in helping people in need, please support our food programs by donating money or giving food at any of our locations in the Twin Cities.

Now is a great time to donate – especially for Minnesotans, whose donations will be proportionally matched during Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign.