Over the last four years, Tony's Kitchen has been blessed by the presence of Sarah Ladderud, a University of Puget Sound graduate. First as an undergrad and, most recently, a student in the Masters in Occupational Therapy program, Sarah has consistently furthered the mission of Tony's Kitchen by sharing soup and conversation with our guests. Read on to hear what the experience has meant to her.
I have been serving at Tony’s Kitchen for the past four years, since my sophomore year at the University of Puget Sound, and it has been a truly invaluable experience. Tony’s has made a lasting impact on me, both personally and professionally. In fact, here in the last semester of my Masters of Occupational Therapy program at Puget Sound, I created a life skills business proposal in the hopes of continuing the work of serving the homeless through my professional and personal life.
Tony’s Kitchen is a rare type of community where many different kinds of people come together in one place. There is always laughter and active chitchat among the guests, talking about life or sports, or where the best breakfast options are. Our Tony’s volunteers consistently go above and beyond by getting to know our guests and helping in very tangible ways. This is the type of community that I hope to always be a part of - loving and supportive.
Among the Tony’s volunteers is a sense of shared life. I have seen other volunteers’ children grow up, and they have shared in my happiness, like when, just a few weeks ago, I got engaged! We have shared bad days and rough weeks, and, through it all, the community at Tony’s Kitchen has been simply amazing.
We don’t see every guest every week and there is always conversation around who is present and who we have not seen in awhile. The individuals who attend Tony’s Kitchen have increased my compassion, forgiveness, and empathy. Hearing their stories and life narratives have broadened the worldview I now hold. I have heard countless stories of layoffs, disease, and other life circumstances outside of individual control, landing these individuals on the streets of Tacoma, seeking support systems and other means of community. I believe that they can and have found that community at Tony’s Kitchen.
Now that my Master’s program is completed, my consistency at Tony’s may be coming to an end – though I am not positive what the future holds, exactly. I do know that I have found a source of community through Tony’s Kitchen, both with fellow volunteers as well as with the guests, that I will carry with me my whole life long.