Clients / Volunteers

My Soul Food

MY SOUL FOOD by Deb Hall

I moved to the Coastside almost 9 years ago. Being a transplanted southerner, I half froze and shopped the bay area trying to find “real” buttermilk! There is no full fat buttermilk …. not then,  not now.

I only knew a couple of people. I soon was employed and found that making new friends is easy as Californians are friendly folks. Still something was missing. I thought I was just missing old friends, routines and long lazy humid summer days back home.

I did some heavy soul searching; I thought that I had possibly made a mistake. I wasn’t handling my new life well. I was with my soul mate and had a good step child. Life was easy. I was making myself miserable. I knew that I was blessed.

Laughing and speaking with my daughter was a great distraction. We scheduled time so we could talk about “things” without an audience. Both of us were newly married and adjusting to our new lives. I told her what a hard time I was having finding my happy place. Then with wisdom that comes from being an old soul, she said, “You need some good ol’ soul food.”

Now all of you know what soul food is, right? Wrong. My grandmother would beg to differ with you. For my family soul food was doing something that feeds your soul. Many activities can be soul food; church, family game nights, participating in book clubs,gardening etc…lt can be different for everyone. It is up to each of us to feed our soul. No one is going to do that for you.

With that thought in mind I found a volunteer opening at COASTSIDE HOPE. I’d driven past many times and really didn’t know exactly what they did or how they worked. I called and Keith invited me in to apply.

He took the time away from a busy schedule to explain the mission COASTSIDE HOPE strives to complete for fellow Coastsiders, be they young needing a hand at school, a family in transition, a vet with no place to lay her head, the elderly choosing between eating or medications, COASTSIDE HOPE gives anyone who has a need a place to go to find that helping hand. WoW!

That sounded like a tall order to me. The concern, kindness towards those who often weren’t kind to themselves and the love of community I felt was amazing. I know. Sounds like I was sold on COASTSIDE HOPE. You betcha. That was in 2010. I became the Tuesday Smiling People Greeting Reception volunteer. SPGR. That’s me.

As for the soul food I was missing, I’ve definitely found it here. How can I not? The first time you see the difference counseling makes for an ex-USMC vet with PTSD who was falling between the cracks until Ali helped him find the right agency to work with, or how about the family that lost their home due to ever increasing rent that Violeta helped.

The look in someone’s eyes as they graduate from the citizenship class is a reward all its own.  The work that Lorena and Cecilia do to help our immigrants on their path to becoming US citizens is unending and so needed.

Then there are the children.  With bright futures ahead and smiles for everyone, they bring their lists for Santa. Thanks to Judy and her army of volunteer “elves,” Coastside children can look forward to Christmas –  because Santa never forgets that we only are children once. COASTSIDE HOPE Adopt-A-Family is a chance for everyone to feed their soul by being an elf for families and the elderly on the coast.

COASTSIDE HOPE is my soul food.

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