|HAC’s Darrell Thomas (middle right) talks to the volunteers that serve meals at the NOAH Shelter.
Whenever an individual comes to the NOAH Shelter in Hyannis, they have experienced serious trauma.
It could be the result of mental illness, addiction, loss of a job, divorce or medical problems. So they look for small beacons of hope that will ultimately lift them out of the darkness. And that hope is what they receive every night when complete strangers, out of the goodness of their hearts, prepare dinner for upwards of 60 homeless men and women staying at the shelter.
“Just by being here and showing a little love is a huge thing,” shelter director Greg Bar told roughly three dozen such volunteers at the end of February when he offered tips for those serving meals and introduced his colleague Darrell Thomas as the new kitchen manager for the shelter.
What these HAC volunteers provide for Cape Cod’s homeless population, Bar said, is a little normalcy when they need it most.
“What you all provide for us is immeasurable,” Thomas added, before acknowledging that he knows exactly what NOAH’s clients are experiencing. “We were in a situation
like them. My family had no place to stay. We got to HAC and they helped me and my family get back on our feet.”
Thomas, who was hired at HAC in the summer of 2010, has witnessed firsthand the positive impact meal volunteers can have on those who are homeless.
One has been dubbed the “soup lady,” providing two different types of soups to clients every week.
Bar encouraged them to go beyond just serving a meal. “If you want to give them words of encouragement, do it. If you want to pray with them, do it,” he said. “Any investment that builds these people up is a good thing.”
“It just makes you feel good,” said Beth Heiden, a member of Our Lady of Victory Parish in Centerville, who has been preparing meals at NOAH for roughly two years.
“We could be on the other side,” said Francoise Rocher, also of Our Lady of Victory Parish. She first served a meal at the shelter about seven years ago. As to why she has continually come back, she explained it this way: “Coming here reassures me that there are people in the world who are concerned and care.”