I Did Not Want to Pop Corn! I’ve Never Forgotten Her

I did not want to pop corn!

However, I have since changed my mind, because this new venture in our life has brought us so many blessings through the beautiful people we meet and the life lessons so many of them teach us. 

This is about one of those people. I do not know her, will probably never meet her again, but she taught me so much. 

One of our Kettle Corn regulars, Larry, helps out at a Soup Kitchen his church serves at once a month. There were a few times he had taken our Kettle Corn that was left over at the end of the day, to pass out to those who came to eat supper at the Soup Kitchen.

Larry invited Tim and I to come help one evening when their church was serving. We had no idea what to expect, but went with the purpose of finding out more about this Soup Kitchen and to help bless the people who came to eat.

I was blown away by the whole experience and can’t forget it even now, 3 years later.

Larry told us what time to be there. We arrived, driving into a large parking lot. In front of us was what looked like a former High School maybe? It was a long building on one side, the gymnasium off of that, with a large cafeteria attached to it. We saw young guys going in and out of the gym in front of us, bouncing basketballs. We walked to the far end of the building, to a door leading into the cafeteria where Larry told us to meet him.

It was a large attractive space. Tables were set up; each had a pretty little centerpiece in middle of it. There were mostly men sitting at the tables waiting for the food to be ready, a mom with 2 little kids, and just one other woman sitting opposite of one of the men. They were chatting away, looking like they knew each other.

To the left of the cafeteria was a serving kitchen, filled with many volunteers from Larry's church, getting ready to serve the supper they had fixed.

It wasn’t just adults helping that night. There were young teenage boys and some children who were helping too. After the guests had filed through to fill their plates and sat back down, the young boys helped fill the water glasses with sweet tea or water, whatever the guests wanted.

Two of the boys went to the front of the room and proceeded to share from memory, a whole chapter of verses from the Bible. It was very impressive, to which the guests all clapped when they were done.

I noticed the woman seated at the tables, was very attentive to the boys, responding like she had seen them do this before. She went on then to chat with the older man across from her. They were in a very lively conversation.

While the guests were eating, I stood by the back wall of the cafeteria, which was all windows, looking out over a gated Tiny House Village. I would say about 10 to 15 Tiny houses, all just as neat as could be, side by side, beautifully situated in two rows, across the ‘street’ from each other.

 Larry came over with Tim to explain the Tiny House Village and gave us a mini tour of the place along with information.

He called the building we were in, the Dream Center. The Tiny House Village we were looking at is called ‘Opportunity Village.’ This Village is for women only.

The Dream Center is a place where women can come to for help. The story of how it was founded is inspiring and you can find on line if you look up ‘The Dream Center Easley S.C.’  Simply put, it was a husband and wife who wanted to do something outside the church walls to make a difference in people’s lives, especially for women and children. They had a vision of giving a ‘hand up’ instead of a ‘hand out’ and along with the help of friends and other people, started the work of The Dream Center.

The Dream Center helps train the women who come for help, find jobs, and provide a day care center for their children while mom is working. A Dental Office is on site to help provide for those needs. The gated Opportunity Village provides housing for mom and her kids for one year as they get back on their feet and become self-sufficient. There are many more incentives provided for these women that will help them with groceries and household items.

When they complete the program in that year, they are ready to move on to their own housing, which is a neighborhood down the street from the Dream Center. The street is lined with small bungalow type houses the Dream Center began buying, one at a time, remodeling them to provide low-income housing for the women and their children who have come out of the Opportunity Village.

 There is now a whole beautiful street of these houses. A second street is now in the process of getting remodeled for the same purpose.

This programs success is attracting the attention of organizations nationwide, and many have come to ‘see’ how it is done.

I was totally impressed with the story of the Dream Center. I looked back into the room filled with the people who came to eat, the people there serving, being the hands and feet of Jesus, and then Tim and I.

We had literally come because Larry invited us to help, and to bring Kettle Corn to pass out to the guests who came to eat. I came to bless people, but was instead being blessed by the story I had just heard and the work being done here. It took one couple, to make known their desire to help others and look what they accomplished! I was totally impressed.

I saw that some of the guests were ready to leave. The one woman I had seen at the table earlier, I now saw standing close to the door, talking with one of the volunteers. She was holding a take home box with food that was left over and a bag of Kettle Corn. I was drawn to this woman. I think it was her smile and cheerful spirit in spite of the fact that she had to come here to eat. She seemed happy and content. I walked up to her, hoping to join into the conversation.

Closer to her now, I could hear her talking and she sounded genuinely happy. She was very skinny. Her hair was thin and hung to her shoulders. Her face looked like she had endured many hardships. Her skin was tough looking. Wrinkled, etched lines settled deep on the surface. I couldn’t tell how old she was, it was hard to know. Her persona exuded  happiness, even self confidence. 

But, the thing that impressed me most and made her beautiful to me, where her eyes. There was a happy and content sparkle in them that outshone anything else. It drew you to her.

I asked her if she lived close by. She said, ‘Oh yes, just a couple of blocks over that way.’ She smiled at me. She was genuine. I can’t remember the whole of our conversation. After a while, she thanked everyone again for supper and the extra food they were sending home and turned to go, heading for the door. She opened it and stepped outside.

I stood and looked at the door that closed behind her.

 I couldn’t help myself.

I walked to the door and stepped outside. She was walking across the large parking lot towards the road, her back to me, the bag of Kettle Corn swaying back and forth in her hand as she walked, a bounce in her step.

 I wanted to run after her and ask if we could drive her home? I wanted to talk to her more! I watched as she walked across the distance of the large parking lot, down the street and out of sight. I was still standing outside the door after she disappeared.

My eyes glistened as I looked over across the parking lot. Tim’s nice truck was sitting there, dependable and ready to take us home or wherever we wanted to go.

She probably didn’t have a vehicle.

I was going to jump into the truck with Tim and go somewhere to eat, maybe fast food, maybe a sit down restaurant. The choice was ours.

She had to come to the Soup Kitchen to eat.

She looked happy and content, in spite of her situation. Her eyes told me so.

I, on other hand, am often discontent when my day doesn't go as planned, stupid little things that iritate me, or the times I just wanted something prettier to replace ‘a thing’ I got tired of in my house and couldn't find it right away on a shopping trip. 

She worked to support herself, probably affording just the bare necessities.

I had come to help serve and bless these people, yet this woman had done something for me I can’t even put into words.

I have never forgotten her. 

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