In February, our kindness was to pay it forward to a RAOK that my girls and I received while out to lunch one day in December. So, our family got bundled up for the cold and headed out to dinner together to Hoss's. We chose Hoss's for two reasons; first that was where we were originally RAOK'ed and also we knew that was within our financial means to be able to pay for both our meal and another family's meal. That's the thing about kindness - it doesn't have to be overly expensive or outside of your financial means.
Once we were seated, Brandon and I scanned the room for potential recipients of our anonymous kindness. After going back and forth a couple times - it's so nerve-racking and kind of scary!- Brandon was convinced that we RAOK an elderly couple seated behind me who were both sitting on the same side of the table enjoying their dinner in relative quiet; in that romantic way that older couples in love do so easily and sweetly. Lets be honest, we sort of picked them because we hoped to be like them some day.
We told our server of our secret plan and we sat excitedly while we watched her tell their server. Eek! The anticipation is maddening! Hah! After their server informed our couple that their meal had been paid for, I could hear them behind me whispering that they hadn't see anyone that they knew in the restaurant and how it was 'awfully nice.' It was done and went off smoothly and we were satisfied with the whole experience.
But then - bonus! - when our RAOK'ed couple were getting up to leave, they stopped by our table, to compliment us on our family and to say how they thought the kids behaved nicely and were so cute. Totally unbeknownst to them that we had been the ones to pay for their meal! The wife went on to tell us that they had raised five kids and although it is wild and loud when they're young, it is the best times - so "hang in there!' she said with a wistful smile. I could have cried! B and I were smiling ear to ear to know that not only had we completed our kindness for the month, but it went to a couple that was so nice themselves. Like giving back to people who give kindness freely themselves.
In March, Brandon and I spent a Saturday evening at the Windber Area Community Kitchen, clearing tables, helping folks to their seats, and washing dishes. We actually heard about W.A.C.K. initially last year from one of our high school scholarship essays. Ever since reading about how the student had volunteered there, I have been itching to add it to our 12 Months of Kindness goals.
So we dropped the kids at Abba and Chum's house (thank you!) and headed out for a #kindnessdatenight (can we make that a real thing?) We went, not knowing another single volunteer there (!), and were introduced around the place and directed on what we should do. Before anyone came in, it felt sort of awkward (like new things out of our normal comfort zone always do) but as the people began pouring in - we fell right into a steady groove.
We made some new friends with volunteers, laughed and chatted with some of the diners, and learned more about the organization. Brandon got comfortable back in the kitchen and sort of fell in love with the industrial high power dishwasher (hahah, he wants one at home). We even got to enjoy some dinner afterwards and I was happy to help finish up the last two pieces of cookie cake...obviously.
We were there from about 3:30p until 6p for the actual meal and then spent another half hour or so helping to clean up, vacuum, and tear down the hall. The volunteers are like a well-oiled machine in there and there was clear direction and a lot of great people that are there for every dinner (they serve two Saturdays every month).
During our meal, there were two young-ish kids there volunteering (ages between 7-10) and I think Grey could definitely handle being there to help bus tables or get folks seated - so hopefully he and I can go back again this year to get him on the volunteering fun.