Spotlight on First Parish Cambridge

First Parish Cambridge has been serving free meals on Tuesday evenings to local homeless and needy residents for over 15 years. The program relies on food donations from local restaurants and companies and on volunteers to prepare, serve, and clean up after the meal. TELEM students from Temple Beth Shalom in Needham volunteer at the soup kitchen, helping to serve the nearly one hundred individuals who come in for a hot meal.

Temple Beth Shalom students visit First Parish every other Tuesday evening to serve food, schmooze and connect with patrons. Students and patrons both enjoy the opportunity to get to know one another. After one meal, a student commented, "We had a good night, saw some new faces, met some interesting people. One guy was a comedian, and he told good jokes." Students are comfortable at the kitchen, stopping to sit and chat with patrons while they eat. Judy Laris, volunteer coordinator at First Parish, says that the students' positive attitudes make all the difference. "You guys are really out there, you sit and talk with them, for people with no one in their lives, it really means something."

At First Parish, some Beth Shalom parents also get involved. One mother of a TELEM student said, "We're really grateful for the chance to see our kids doing good. You watch them grow up and hope they'll be responsible, good people, and here we get to see that in action as they interact and talk with the men and women here. We're very proud of them."

And since students visit the soup kitchen regularly, they make connections with patrons who say the students treat them with great service. One man recently said, "You've spoiled me for the rest of the volunteers. What am I going to do next week?"

Luckily for everyone, the students will be back.