Making a Difference: Young volunteers help at Sun Prairie's Sunshine Supper
Each Monday evening, about 150 guests arrive at Sun Prairie's Sunshine Supper looking for a hot meal...and the warmth that comes from a feeling of community.
Among the volunteers who serve guests each week are four young Sun Prairie neighbors, ages 10, 12, and 14.
When I visited,10-year-old Kevin Banks was greeting guests at the door with a broad smile and a friendly, "Hello, Welcome to the Sunshine Supper!" Some guests shook his hand, and others gave Kevin a high five. Kevin's friend and neighbor, 10-year-old Connor Peck, stood next to him, also greeting guests.
Their friends and neighbors, sisters Trudense DePagter (12), and Destiny DePagter (14), were volunteering nearby, handing out silverware and food in the serving line.
The co-founder and coordinator of the free, nutritious weekly meal, Julie Wiedmeyer said, "Sunshine Supper's really about the community coming together--both in the way of bringing the meal together and serving it, and bringing all walks of life together and sitting around a table and building community." She said it relies on donations and a corps of community volunteers like those four young neighbors.
The DePagter sisters answered the call to volunteer, then convinced Kevin and Connor to start volunteering as well. Kevin explained why he serves each Monday. "I want to help the community and it's just fun!". Trudense added, "It makes me proud that I can actually help, because not many people my age help."
Wiedmeyer said, "The guests here love the youth. They feel that good energy, they want to be a part of that. They want them here and feel good being served by them."
Destiny DePagter says serving at Sunshine Supper brightens her week too, and gives her a break from the pressures of school. "On Monday nights it's kind of like that sanctuary area. I just like volunteering to see everyone's smiles and getting to meet new people.'
A guest at the meal named Linda told me, "It means a lot. I think it's wonderful. I think it's teaching them at a young age to think about other people and not just of themselves. I think it'll stick with them."
Connor said the feeling is mutual. While carrying a tray for a guest he said, "I like doing it because I like helping out the community."
Community...and the importance of service to others--
all growing stronger each week at Sunshine Supper.
For more information on attending or volunteering at Sunshine Supper, click on the links to the right, (or below on your mobile device).
We learned about Kevin, Connor, Trudense, and Destiny's volunteer work from a nomination on our Making a Difference web page. If you'd like to nominate someone who is making a difference in your community, please click on the link.