If nature celebrates spring only once a year, our volunteers celebrate service every Sunday. This past month we celebrated the new season with roses of service and leaves of kindness to everyone regardless of their social status.
On the first Sunday of the month, Raoufa and Fazi prepared beef stew, chicken wings, lentil soup, salad, and bread. They were joined by Bill and Michael to serve the Sunday brunch to a low income building in Somerville, MA.
Aurora, a volunteer, was asked to share a memory in childhood about altruism that left her a lasting impression. She said, “My father would not cover his feet in bed with a blanket at nights even when it was terribly cold in winters. When I asked him to explain his action, first he shied away but when I insisted he said he was enjoying a comfortable life with food and a roof over his head. He intentionally let his feet feel the cold so that he wouldn’t forget the homeless who spend the night on a sidewalk or in a subway station. That was my first lesson of love in my formative years!”
We held our third administrative meeting on March 10. Everyone talked only for five minutes in order to give everyone equal opportunity. We focused on what we did during the last month and what our plans were for the upcoming month. We then prioritized the tasks involved: we need some volunteers dedicated to the anniversary PR which includes emailing and mailing hard copies invitations to about six thousand supporters. We also need two volunteers to dedicate themselves to organizing and delivering clothes. Mr. Noor reported that he invited Vice-Mayor, a City Councilor, and Mark Alston-Follansbee to speak at our anniversary on September 20th. Mr. Noor also reported that the Boston Housing Authority invited us to supply donated clothes to a housing project on Washington Street in Boston, MA.
On St. Patrick’s Day (March 17), we visited the Emergency Shelter in Cambridge and served vegetable soup, pasta with beef, salad, pita bread with chicken, green and red onion, sprouts, mushrooms, sweet pickles, pitted olives and hummus, hot cocoa, and St. Patrick day-themed cupcakes. Volunteers included Jasmine, Maria, Ben, Michael, Kathryn, Bill and Mo. About 70 meals were served.
One guest remarked, “I could feel the overwhelming love that was touched upon me through the service.”
Amy and John, just months into dating each other, brought a unique youthful energy to the group. When I asked why they spent Sunday early morning volunteering, they said that service brings them “a mutual happiness” that they wouldn’t experience elsewhere.
Hanane said, “Participating in the Sufi Service brings me joy. I feel happy when I am serving others, especially when I know that my service fills a great need. I also enjoy the social aspect of collaborating with other volunteers and building friendships with them.”
Without concern for and relationship to others, there can be no happiness.
Coming to Noor for our Sufi Service Committee is like coming to the garden. We share smiles, hugs, food, fellowship and service together. Younger and older faces integrate without distinction. Furthermore, we carry with us the joy to others when we go to a homeless shelter or distribute clothing. It is contagious!
Every weekend, I look forward to the smile and greeting of our dear Mr. Noor, sitting for tea, setting up the work and hugging and greeting all of the brothers and sisters who walk through the door. Some of us cook our favorite recipes for one another as well as for the most needy. Music lovingly provided by Michael and Bill serenade us through the service. The beauty of flowers decorates the common table. Chocolates and ice cream and cakes remind us that service is sweet. Working together is FUN. We share labors of love and joy. During our time to share food, we also share our own stories in a most accepting environment. Sorting through clothing, we are direct witnesses to the giving and generosity of others… Through cleaning we can celebrate the conclusion of a happy gathering and lovingly prepare our workspace (garden) for future gatherings….
Personally, I can state that my life is more joyful and happy since having the opportunity to serve with the Sufi Service Committee. Come and see for yourself!
Maria said that she feels “… happy and blessed to be part of the Sufi Service Committee; to have the time to share some hours with other volunteers and have the satisfaction of working together on projects that will serve others less fortunate in our community… In our monthly service at the wet shelter, it gives me great satisfaction to know people like our food, and feel that we are expressing our love and respect for them through food. To know that some individuals in there are tasting hot cocoa, soups and different dishes and giving thanks for these meals, brings me a lot of satisfaction for work and time shared.”
Lauren reflected that “being around people that want to help others is a great source of happiness . . . It’s easy to be happy when you’re doing good deeds in good company.”
Michael said, “I always enjoy the Sufi Service experience — your caring approach, the people . . . playing the music, the friendships that have developed, the response of some of the listeners and the food.”
Yasaman found that “participation in Sufi Service Committee not only was fun, but it was also a really good experience. The fact that I felt useful and able to serve community and do something positive made me satisfied inside. I had a really good time at the shelter and communicating with people that I had the chance to serve. The lovely atmosphere made me full of joy and I hope to have the pleasure to serve there again in the future.”
Liam said, “The sense of community when serving the food makes me happy. I also enjoy learning about all the other volunteers and (learn) where they are from. I really enjoy the sense of accomplishment from making food for others who need it.”
Bill said that “activities that provide particular satisfaction in the moment are singing for the guests at the shelter and delivering food in the mornings. I tend to be happier when I feel I’m using my time efficiently; for example, days we receive two or three boxes from Whole Foods are more satisfying than days we receive only one.”
Matt reflected that
Being involved in the Sufi Service Committee has been the most wholesome experience I have felt since starting college. I had been longing for a connection with people outside of school, and I am overwhelmingly happy I sent them an email last September. It has been amazing to meet so many different volunteers from diverse backgrounds to accomplish tasks that are helping the needy in our community. In terms of the specific examples that have made me happy I can list a few.
1) Experimenting with different cooking styles and making unique foods with Harrison in the upstairs kitchen. Not all the meals turned out perfect but we always tried our best.
2) Being the first person to interact with new volunteers after a email dialogue. I find that when people show up for their first time they can at times be nervous. I like providing them with a welcoming experience and making them feel comfortable among the other volunteers.
3) Car rides on Sunday mornings with Mr. Noor. Because we are both early risers and enjoy company in the morning we always have great (humorous) chats!
Mr. Noor shared: “My happiness here is not just a fleeting sentiment. Here, every cell of my body feels truly joyous!”