In March,  a meetup at the Open Heart Kitchen in Ridge View Commons was proposed by one of the organizers in GLI, also known as Global Leadership Initiative. The meetup would consist  of students looking to participate in community service having an opportunity to experience working in a senior center, whether it be their first time or they had already an abundance of experience. The date was set, and sign-ups were distributed. There were limited slots available, and in the end,  8 students joined whom were eager to work in the kitchen.

        After a month of waiting, the date of the volunteer hours arrived - April 13th. At 3:15, my parent sent me to Ridge View Commons, located in Pleasanton. I arrived promptly at 3:40, and went into the kitchen to start my work. I signed in on the “Time-in and Time-out” sheet, and awaited instructions from the supervisor after receiving the necessary attire.

        After a bit of waiting, the instructor, site supervisor Christy assigned jobs to the students.Since it was my first time volunteering at Open Heart Kitchen, she assigned me to one of the more simple jobs, and that was the salad bar. She sent one of the more experienced students, a sophomore, to teach me how to manage the salad bar. There were 8 trays of assorted toppings alongside a large tray of starter lettuce. The student  told me that it would be a good idea to prepare 4 default orders in order to help with the dinner rush. She also told me that for a salad, usually a spoonful of the different toppings would be suitable.

        After learning the basics, I awaited for the orders. That Wednesday was not as hectic as others, but there were still plenty of senior citizens. I paired salads with different sauces, and prepared to take alternated salad orders. Some time passed, and the experienced student left me in charge of the salad bar. For the next hour or so, I took orders from the waitresses and waiters. 15 minutes to the closing time, the experienced student returned so we could clean up the toppings and sauces to put back in the fridge in dated bags.

        After the kitchen closed, the students who signed up with GLI took a photo. They were overall satisfied with their experience in the kitchen, as those with jobs as waiters were able to interact with the senior citizens. I learned from the experience that helping contribute to something beneficial was fun and would mean better for the content of the community. I would be more than glad to return to Open Heart Kitchen more often. Next time, there may be more senior citizens awaiting their meal, meaning more work for all the volunteers, but it will certainly provide a better learning experience. This was a good opportunity to experience what it was like to serve in the kitchen and to be a part of a group of collaborating workers.

By Angela Chu