I have always been taught that volunteering is the ultimate way to give back to the community. Organizations are always looking for friendly and helpful volunteers to fulfill their projects, and you can be one of them! There's always a way to give your contribution to make the world a better place. Volunteering at a soup kitchen is definitely a great way to do so.

Food Feeds the Soul

I volunteer for an organization called New York Cares, a website that anyone can sign into and be linked to amazing volunteer opportunities around the five boroughs of New York City. I absolutely love volunteering for them and meeting amazing people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. This website linked me to the soup kitchens that I volunteered for. 

My love for the kitchen and for food has made working in soup kitchens actually fun. I have worked in three separate kitchens: Xavier Mission at The Church of St. Francis Xavier, Gay Men Health Crisis and Jan Hus Presbyterian Church. My experiences have been completely different for each kitchen but they all have a special place in my heart. 

During my time at these soup kitchens, I met some really amazing people who told me that they volunteer at these organizations all of the time because that's how much they love it. They really inspire me to look for more volunteer opportunities and to love what I'm doing. Learning about some of these people's lives and their contribution to these organizations make me still have faith in humanity. 

The Reward

The greatest perk of volunteering is the friends you make during those hours you’re there together. You both can bond over how cute you look in aprons and boom... you made a friend. You will meet people who volunteer there all the time and people who are there for the first time. Even if it's your first time volunteering in a soup kitchen, you shouldn’t be afraid. There are plenty of really friendly people there to answer any questions you have and trust me, you’ll have some. Each soup kitchen organizes their space differently so before you freak out because you forgot where the cups are, there is always someone there to help you remember.

A Few Challenges

Mayleen Zhagnay

Some of the challenges that do arise are usually problems that happen whenever you're working in the people business. There are always going to be people that you can't please such as the people you are serving or even the staff you are working with. The important lesson to note is that just because one person is causing some problems, doesn't make the work you're doing any less valuable.

Often the guests you are serving can be rude but it's your responsibility to always keep calm. If things get out of hand, always ask for assistance to someone in charge. There are also some policies set in place for people who want seconds or thirds so you have to ask for patience and of course follow the rules of the soup kitchen.


Volunteers are majorly important to the success of any organization. If there weren't kind and helpful people available, the world wouldn't be filled with amazing organizations that help millions of people today. I know this might sound tacky, but there is a way to make change happen and just by getting involved, you can actually make a difference in another person's life. It could even change your perspective of the world and have a well-rounded sense of what it means to be human.