Youth from the local Beautiful Gate Baptist Church have graciously been lending a helping hand to food service workers throughout the General Conference Session in San Antonio. As a result of their help with distributing bottles of water and frozen fruit bars to guests each day during the lunchtime meal, as well as overseeing the fresh fruit and cookie tables, session food service director Jeanette Jump says labor costs are being kept low.
“The name of their group fits so well—Helping Hands,” said Jump, also special events coordinator for Employee Food Service for the General Conference office. “We are so grateful for their help.”
The Helping Hands group of about 20 people comprise mostly youth but also a few parents. They are raising funds to pay for a week at summer camp for kids that can’t afford it themselves, so RK Group, the catering company responsible for providing the Session meals, is aiding their efforts. RK is donating funds to help pay the way for the young Session worker campers. And the young people seem to be enjoying the job.
“It’s been fun,” said Yairesan Chez from Helping Hands, adding that most of the people “have been really nice.”
Witnessing other cultures has also been eye opening for some of the young people. Marisol Acosta said she’s appreciated how the international Adventist group “are all united. It’s a privilege to be part of it.” She added that it’s been “a great opportunity for myself and my church so people will learn who we are and what we stand for.”
Adventist youth are doing their part to assist with the meal service as well. Some 14 teens are greeting the guests with a smile, scanning their meal cards, and handing them a plastic plate. Receiving no pay for their work, the young people still see it as rewarding.
“It’s fun to help people,” said Somiaya Goulvourne from Tennessee, “and I’m making friends at the same time.”
Volunteer Jemima Klingbeil said that speaking multiple languages has been useful.
“I know only two languages—German and English—but sometimes when I’m trying to help a person who speaks Spanish, I call my sister and say, ‘Hey, get over here,’ because Hannah speaks Spanish,” Jemima said.
Hannah Klingbeil noted that the cafeteria is busiest on Sabbaths.
“We dash out of church and race here, and then there’s a rush of people,” she said. “On Sabbaths we feed thousands more people than during the week.”
The scanning team is lead by David Macomber, a bush pilot from Chad.
So is all this young assistance really vital to the food service program?
“We could not have done it without their help,” Jump said. “They are all truly amazing young people.”