Father’s Day came a couple of days early for about 90-guests at the Visalia Rescue Mission.
A dozen members of the American Medical Technologists Student Society (AMTSS) on the Visalia campus decided they wanted to honor fathers on June 13th, who could often be found at noon at the Visalia Rescue Mission and who were, mostly, estranged from their families. The Medical Assisting students made over a dozen desserts – everything from cakes and cookies, to cupcakes and fruit kabobs – and served them, along with a hearty lunch prepared at the Mission to all who came by for a little culinary comfort.
“Guests were so happy and pleased that we thought about them for Father’s Day, and that the MA students had prepared a variety of desserts just for them,” says Sujana De Almeida, MA instructor and AMTSS Club Advisor.
The students arrived at the Visalia Rescue Mission at 10:00 A.M. that Friday to clean and decorate tables and dot each one with colorful table toppers and candy. As guests came in for lunch, students brought their food out on trays and wished diners a ‘Happy Father’s Day’.
At the end of the meal, AMTSS members brought around an array of tasty desserts they had worked so hard to make for this occasion. Many appreciative ‘dads’, along with a few women and children, also there for lunch, sampled a few treats.
“We served with a smile and we served with love,” says Sujana.
There was a particularly special moment for Mrs. De Almeida when one of the Father’s Day guests requested that she offer a prayer before diners began their meal.
“I’ve never prayed in public, and they were all looking at me to see how I was going to react,” says Sujana. “But I was caught up in the moment and believe that God just put those words in my mouth.”
Later, as Sujana was walking around and asking guests how they enjoyed their desserts, demonstrating to students how they might interact as well, when she noticed one gentleman sitting all by himself. He was generous in his praise of their gifts. “I enjoyed the meal and just want to thank you and your students,” he said. “By the way, I’m the one who requested that you say a prayer,” he said.
Sujana is very glad he made that request of her. “It gives me chills every time I speak of it,” she says. “It has been such a life-changing experience to serve our brothers and sisters in our community, and have our students participate in this.”
Community service is very much a part of being a student at SJVC. It not only benefits the community, it is an important teaching opportunity – a chance for students to see the direct impact they can have on another life, and what that action stirs within them.
“I truly believe our students were inspired and would like to go back and serve again,” says Sujana.
I want them to inspire their own children because this is something that has to be passed along. I want them to know that there is more joy in giving than receiving.”
Many gifts of heart and spirit were exchanged that day at the Visalia Rescue Mission.