Monte Poole

Monte Poole: Day volunteering with Warriors was time well spent

NBC Universal, Inc.

SAN FRANCISCO – The invitation from the Warriors was irresistible: Would you like to join a group of us to feed people in need of food?

I was hooked. Didn’t initially know or care where we were going, who we were feeding or what was being served. Could’ve been preparing sandwiches for preschoolers in the Mission or mashing potatoes in the kitchen at the San Francisco County Jail.

This is something Warriors employees are required to do. Those who can’t commit to a volunteering at least one day of service each year can expect an automatic “F” as their citizenship grade.

I soon discovered we’d be going to GLIDE Memorial Church. Perfect. I’d been before. This shining star of San Francisco’s oft-disparaged Tenderloin neighborhood is famous for providing thousands of meals each day – and for treating all human beings with kindness and dignity.

Pulling into the Chase Center garage around 11 a.m. PT on a warm Thursday, most of the group was standing near the entrance awaiting vehicles from a ridesharing service. We piled into three cars and navigated our way to GLIDE.

After signing in at the community engagement and volunteer office, we were led downstairs to the dining hall and given hair nets and disposable aprons. Staffers separated us into several groups and assigned one of four duties. Working the food service line, distributing compartment trays, bussing tables or transferring the bussed trays to the staffer working the dishwasher.

Photo courtesy of Golden State Warriors

We were told to expect a steady crowd because many of the diners would know today’s menu featured fried chicken, their most popular meal. No lie.

Then came the crowd. As if there were a starting gun. The next 70 minutes were a blur. Clearing tables, cleaning tables, refilling pitchers of ice water and enjoying the party. Very little chicken went uneaten. Potatoes (or rice) and fresh fruit were better received than the broccoli.

Photo courtesy of Golden State Warriors

One diner offered opinions about the NBA Finals. Another, after handing me his empty tray, asked if Klay Thompson was going to stay with the Warriors. A third told me he was going to the store and to let him know if I needed anything.

The conversations brought smiles and some giggling. A hot meal, deeply appreciated, has a way of unifying people, for at least those precious minutes.

If only those minutes were years.

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