Serve the City teams around the world love to initiate simple projects to show kindness in personal ways. But in our aim to be transformational, not transactional, there’s always more going on than initially meets the eye.
We contacted Travis Mielonen from Serve the City Poland to share the details of one such project in Kraków.
Serve the City Kraków organises a project called Street Snack. Could you tell us a little bit more about this initiative?
“Street Snack is our take on connecting with the homeless community in Kraków. It’s quite simple – make some sandwiches, add some fruit, and vitamin enriched juices, put it all in bags and go find people who might need a human connection.
The primary goal is to talk and get to know the stories of these people who are very often passed by. It’s a repeating project that can be done at any time by any of our volunteers. Sometimes we also invite those we encounter to other events; like game nights, movie nights, or a “dignity dinner” (like a community dinner).”
“Before our volunteers go into the street, we encourage them to think about their own stories, to look for ways of connecting with people of different backgrounds, to actively listen and ask questions that draw more details, interesting facts, and life stories from the people we encounter. We find these kinds of tips really help people understand how to effectively connect.”
“For this kind of project we always include Polish speakers who can help interpret and we also teach people some basic phrases in Polish. The language barrier is challenging for some as it makes it hard to connect at the “story” level but most people are grateful when a foreigner tries anyway. With using an interpreter and the active listening skills, people are still very keen to be known – even in other languages. Lots of laughter happens as well.”
“On the 23rd we will be serving a “dignity dinner” at a local women’s shelter, this will be the 3rd one at this particular location where we have formed a great relationship with the management.We call it a dignity dinner because rather than just serving food or soup onto plates, we create a “restaurant” style approach where people feel like they are at a full service restaurant. We take their orders, we serve their food and drinks, and also include dessert coffee and tea.We also sit down with them and have conversations – it’s a beautiful time to serve, learn, and bring dignity to people who otherwise feel like a burden.”