Biting The Hand That Feeds You

by admin on July 30, 2012

My previous church had a program where volunteers could bring cooked meals to sick or bereaved parishioners. There was an on-line calendar where we could sign up to ensure we were not duplicating efforts and that the recipients had a delivery of food each day. I signed up to help one family where the mother was sick. I arrived on the correct day, walked up to the house bearing my gifts and rang the bell.

After a couple of minutes a lady, about the right age to be the sick parishioner’s mother or aunt, opened the door. She fixed me with an angry glare and loudly snapped,  “I TOLD the church, we don’t need any more food”. I was taken aback and was wondering if it would be polite to take the food away with me, and if I did, what my husband was going to think of eating lasagna and apple crisp for the next four or five days. Fortunately I did not have to worry over this for too long. With a loud sigh the woman declared, “Oh well, I suppose we’ll take it”, and took the food trays into the house and closed the door.

I went home and wrote a polite e-mail to the meal organizer suggesting she contact the sick parishioner to confirm whether or not any more food was needed. You will be happy to hear that the parishioner had made a full recovery.

After that I confined my volunteer efforts to weeding the church parking lot and trimming the trees. I’d rather deal with thorny creatures of the plant variety than the human ones. 0728-12

There are several online meal organizers/calendars now available and I think they are great!   TakeThemAMeal.com and  MealTrain.com are two of my favorites.

I think your response of backing out entirely from any further meal contributions is a little overly dramatic. The older woman does not appear to even be a member of your congregation and therefore her behavior should not reflect poorly on the sick congregant’s entire family or on every person who gets sick.   And one does not know what stresses have been weighing on her which led her to express her exasperation.  At most, I think I would have been hesitant about signing up to bring meals to that particular family in the future  and certainly not written off the entire congregation as unworthy of receiving any more food from me.

{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

Angel July 30, 2012 at 7:49 am

I for one do not blame the OP at all for backing out of providing meals after that experience. It can be very disheartening to have someone yell at you when you are trying to help them out. I have NEVER heard of someone refusing food. Even if you have a freezer ful, the polite thing to do would be to say thank you and move on. I don’t care how exasperated this person was, that’s no excuse to be downright rude! To a complete stranger no less. Just goes to show no good deed goes unpunished.

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Margo July 30, 2012 at 8:02 am

I agree with admin. The woman whoanswered the door was rude, but may well have given the same message several times and been getting increasingly frustrated that it was (to her mind) being ignored.

It sounds as though it was the organiser ofthe calendar, or whoever at the church took the message, who was at fault, for not ensuring that it was passed on promptly to the volunteers. It sounds like a good reason to suggest setting up a telephone or e-mail tree to ensure that messages are passed down to all participants effectively in future.

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Rebecca July 30, 2012 at 8:27 am

In the OP’s position, I probably would not want to bring meals to people anymore either after that experience.

For some people, myself included, it’s very difficult to put yourself out there by knocking on someone’s door and bringing them food. Social anxiety, shyness, and other issues can make that kind of thing really difficult to do, so I completely understand that one bad experience would put her off meal contributions.

At least she’s not leaving the church entirely, or even discontinuing her service. She’s just no longer comfortable with that particular type of service. And that’s okay. It is also a lesson to those who are using stress and/or exasperation with the experience as an excuse for being so rude… you have no idea how much mental prep the person bringing the meal had to put themselves through to knock on your door. A polite thank you and another call to the church would be far more appropriate.

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ferretrick July 30, 2012 at 8:33 am

Not that it excuses the ungraciousness, but I can see how it would be aggravating to have food donations pushed on you you did not ask for or want. I wonder if the person in charge of the program isn’t being overly aggressive and putting people on the list without actually asking if they want or need the food.

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Phoebe161 July 30, 2012 at 8:36 am

I think this is a good example why people should learn manners, etiquette, etc. Why volunteer to do anything and risk being verbally abused? Shame on the relative for her behavior! But I have to agree with Admin; please don’t allow one cretin to take away your joy for serving others. For every jerk, there are a dozen people who would be gracious.

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Harley Granny July 30, 2012 at 8:39 am

While the lady who answered the door was beyond rude, I hope you rethink your decision to stop taking food to those in need.
At one time, I was a meek thing that I too would have stopped doing this also. Now I’m old and crochety I’d still do it but would definitly let the organizers know how rude this person was. It’s never ok to chastise someone who is trying to do you a favor.

Now if you’d just rather do yard work instead of cooking, that’s a different issue. It’s nice that you didn’t stop volunteering all together.

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jena rogers July 30, 2012 at 8:51 am

We really don’t know who can be blamed beyond those key players in this scenario. Margo suggests the calendar organizer may have been at fault. But for all we know, the woman who answered the door contacted someone before they could make the change or avoid this situation, or she may have left a voice mail that was not yet picked up. We really don’t have enough info to make a judgment about anyone here except for the two people in the story. Everything else is pure speculation. That said, I’ll focus my response on those key individuals. The person who answered the door was over-the-top rude. There were so many better ways to handle the situation. At the very least, an attempt at an apology after that display of poor etiquette is surely not too much to ask. As for the OP, I too would have felt discouraged from putting forth that kind of effort and kindness in the future. While some, like Admin. may see this as an over-reaction, I see it as preserving one’s sense of emotional safety. The idea of doing something again which previously yielded such an unpleasant outcome is unnerving to me. Perhaps I would limit future acts of kindness to those families whom I knew very well. I don’t blame the OP one bit, and would gladly join her in pulling weeds.

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Stacey Frith-Smith July 30, 2012 at 9:03 am

I don’t think the OP was obliged to submit to unprovoked rudeness simply because the congregant’s family member was taxed and flustered. Having had a terminally ill parent at home simultaneous to performing a daily role as a care provider to an octogenarian with many issues and concerns, I found that people under the sort of stress that surrounds major medical and end of life issues are too absorbed in the enormity of the experience to think of lashing out over mundane things. They do lash out at times, but more often over pain, loss of control, and being disregarded by those in their environment. A kindness offered, even if superfluous, usually reminded me of the beauty life offers and often made it possible to get through another day. It would not have been excessive to advise the volunteer coordinator. Congregants accepting food or support are obliged at a bare minimum to be civil and persons acting as their proxy should be wary of omitting civility as well. A simple phone call inquiring if it would be convenient to bring food by is needed when doing this kind of volunteering, and if indeed the church received a message they failed to pass to a volunteer or meal coordinator in timely fashion, they are to be faulted, but only a bit. Some might be wary of coddling volunteers, but they are really worth their weight in gold, are often the core that drives every bit of the benevolence and education ministries, and are not to have their concerns minimized or overlooked, unless of course one wants to “bleed” volunteers. We treat ours like rock stars, not because they ask it, but because they ARE that valuable.

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Nancy July 30, 2012 at 9:16 am

The woman who answered the door was rude, yes, but apparently she has a daughter or niece (or other friend or relative) sick enough to warrant her coming to visit, so I would cut her some slack. I would especially do so if she’s contacted the church and people still keep showing up at her door. The sensible thing to do, OP, is to stop making it all about you and your reactions. One doesn’t engage in charity for the rewards, even including gratitude.

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Cat July 30, 2012 at 9:36 am

It reminds me of a friend of mine who accepts whenever I share food with her and her family, but then insists on telling me what they did not like about it. I get critiques like, “We enjoyed the brownies-once we scraped that frosting off of them.” or “That pot roast you gave us was very tender-much better than the last one you did for us.”or “The boys liked the smoked turkey- once they poured barbeque sauce on it.”
In this lady’s case, I think I would have said, “I am sorry to have troubled you.” and taken the food to the nearest shelter providing food for the homeless.
I would not stop providing food because of one rude response although there is no excuse for being rude to someone who wishes to help you in times of trouble. I would ask for the person’s phone number to find out if they had dietary restrictions and preferences as to foods they truly enjoy. Elderly people often lose some sense of taste and prefer things more highly seasoned than a young person would like, for example. If they didn’t want my help, that would be the perfect time to tell me and to spare me the expense and effort of preparing anything for them.

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Kimberly July 30, 2012 at 10:10 am

The op stated that she was wondering what her husband was going to say to eating lasagna and apple crisp for the next four or five days.

So, if the OP made a meal enough to last four or five deals, I can only imagine what others who signed up to bring, how much they had made.

I can understand the frustration of the recipient(?). While it was nice for her church to assign meals, how much food can one family eat?

Maybe someone needs to step in and rethink the organization of the meal giving. Also, what containers are items being delivered in? While the one in need might be getting meals, are they now required to wash and dry dishes and return them to the original owner? Maybe take food every other day instead of every day?

OP…I would cut the family in need some slack and don’t let it daunt you for future meal preps. It sounds like the family was overwhelmed with food and now, with being laid up, they had to figure out what to do with all the food they received.

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L.J. July 30, 2012 at 10:12 am

Five days worth of lasagna and apple crisp? I’d have greeted you with hugs and sprinkled roses at your feet! I hope you’re enjoying your new volunteer work. It’s just as worthwhile as what you were doing before and gives you plenty of time in the fresh air :)

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Jay July 30, 2012 at 10:12 am

@Cat: But it sounds like you keep giving this friend food? Why? Don’t feed the gimme pigs! (literally, in this case)

And also, in this case, the person certainly hadn’t tasted the food.. probably didn’t even know what it is. Just “more free food?? Ugh!”

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S July 30, 2012 at 10:25 am

The lady answering the door was rude. However, I would urge the OP to not stop with the food donations (if she enjoyed doing it). One rude person (one that she would likely not see again) shouldn’t change the way she chooses to volunteer.

Once I quickly ended my volunteer efforts at a church because several people on a committee were rude. My husband and I had offered to volunteer at a church carnival. We were told there would be refreshments and fellowship for the volunteers in the church kitchen (away from the festivities). We approached the kitchen with the intention to socialize and found people but no food. We introduced ourselves and everyone was “nice” but finally one asked, “well, what do you need?” We replied that we were new to the church and the festival and were told that there would be food and fellowship. The ringleader told us the food was put away but called back to the back of the kitchen, “hey, these people want some food” and they grudgingly pulled out a bit of food. We were then largely ignored.

We ate, left and vowed to never participate again. Shortly after we tried several new churches but none suited us so we went back to the original church because it was at least close to our home. We attended until we moved but never participated in anything again.

Looking back I wish we’d had worked a bit harder to make a new friend or two. Especially since we had no luck at any of the following churches. We should have realized that either we were being offensive somehow or we just needed to be more patient as our fellow church-goers got to know us.

At our current church we have found friends. The first group I participated in was very tight and they welcomed my hands for the grunt work but not my ideas or friendship. I tried for a couple years but nothing ever changed and any new people who came onboard quickly quit. I finally pulled the plug on that committee and focused my attention towards another group of fun welcoming people.

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Bint July 30, 2012 at 10:47 am

I have to disagree with Admin. It isn’t over the top to decide that actually, you’d rather not do that service after that. The OP is still volunteering. Why should she keep donating food after being shouted at and having the joy sucked out of it if she doesn’t want to? It was voluntary.

Cat…wow. “It reminds me of a friend of mine who accepts whenever I share food with her and her family, but then insists on telling me what they did not like about it”

Yes, this is where I stop giving them anything again and if asked tell them, “You criticised it every time you had it so I’m not doing it again.” This being the polite alternative to, “Good grief, could you be any more ungracious?” which hopefully a third party may yet tell them. Where do these people come from?! I don’t care if that woman was overworked, stressed or fed up with the food – that is no way to greet a person who has gone to a lot of trouble for you – as if the OP was doing it to annoy her! – so grow up and get some class. She was inexcusably rude and I hope she felt terrible about it afterwards.

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Saucygirl July 30, 2012 at 10:51 am

I used to volunteer for make a wish. After doing it for many years, a volunteer I was training omplained to the volunteer coordianator that I was jaded. He and I just laughed over it. Anyone who is in a place where they need maw, or meals brought to their home, is going through a tough, stressful time. Chances of seeing them at their best is rare. It takes a “jaded” person to volunteer with people – someone who doesn’t need praise or cheerfulness. Someone who can endure a little rudeness, cause they understand it isnt personal or about them. The “unjaded” volunteers never lasted long, normally doing two wishes before quitting, complaining the families weren’t nice enough to them.

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padua July 30, 2012 at 10:51 am

i was on bedrest after giving birth last year, and was thrilled at the prospect of church members bringing food to my home. i was exhausted and couldn’t throw meals together for love or money, so when several women in my church contacted me to let me know they were bringing food over on various days, i was relieved. turns out, my husband has a really difficult time accepting ‘favours’ from anyone. he was less than gracious accepting the food, and i could see him behaving similiarly to the woman who answered the door in the above post.

after i found out what was going on, he and i had a conversation that remedied the situation, but i was mortified in the meanwhile at how he had behaved. i wonder if the ill in the above post would have the same reaction at her relative’s behavior. i would cut her some slack (the ill, not the relative) because we don’t always know how others are behaving when they are acting on someone else’s behalf.

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whoopydoo July 30, 2012 at 10:58 am

I am aware of how this works in churches and well versed having contributed numerous times to this effort.

The organizers do not always make correct assumptions in taking food to sick or shut ins. Many sick have huge extended families already doing this work (which the bible says they should be doing, the church fills in when the family does not take care of its own). It is extremely easy to be in charge of the food committee when all you do is slap people’s names on a list, but the organizer has got to be able to contact the sick, go over their needs, how often they need items, for how many days, who else is helping (family, work collegues, friends, etc.) so as not to overwhelm someone who needs to be recuperating. Folks need to also put on these lists what kinds of food they are taking—nobody needs containers after containers of spaghetti–which tends to be the food of choice to sick and shut ins.

I was sick once and unbeknownst to me, I had two different churches supplying food –the second one I didn’t even know who to call to tell not to continue their ministrations! :-) I really didn’t know what to do with the surplus, and much of it was food I couldn’t eat (due to my condition). I surely would never have treated anyone at my door the way OP was treated, but I think OP should have simply said, “I am very sorry, I will make sure they know at church” and then felt blessed she had freezer meals for herself at that point. And then made doubly sure the list organizer did a better job next time.

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Enna July 30, 2012 at 11:07 am

People who are looking after ill relatives can be under a lot of strain, where I work at a Dr’s surgery I do come across people who are irritable because they or a relative is ill and those who are just down right rude. Normally those who are just being irritable aren’t that bad when they are a bit rude – however if they go over the top then they can get a warning or told to go eleswhere.

Maybe OP was thinking about giving up donating food anyway? I do think it would be a shame that just because one person was a bit rude to her that she stops all togehter. She could help someone who really needs it. Personally I think she should have a word with the organiser of the calender – if the person has a track record of being rude and ungrateful then it should be pointed out to her or him that if they carry on being ungrateful their relative won’t get anymore donations of food. Personally I would have taken the food away, maybe given it to someone else.

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The Elf July 30, 2012 at 11:11 am

Yes, she was rude. And I can’t blame OP for limiting her church-related charity to other areas. It’s not like she’s written off charity entirely, people!

But I do wonder if maybe they did put in a request, maybe even multiple requests, to stop the food delivery and no one got the message. Perhaps there are allergy, diet limitations, or just plain pickiness issues going on and the food was starting to go to waste? Or that the parishoner’s family enjoyed cooking for that person specifically? Who knows. But if (IF) they had declined the charity politely and it still kept coming, it would still behoove them to politely accept it. They can always pass it on!

BTW, I love the idea of the meal calenders. I’m going to keep those in mind the next time a friend needs this kind of help. One of the downsides of not being religious is that a built-in social safety net is lost. But that’s a pretty poor reason to convert, so I guess we secular folks just have to make do.

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TylerBelle July 30, 2012 at 11:26 am

Getting that type of response can be a let down, but you take a deep breath and move on to the next. For I think even if there were to be only one family for every five who expressed some gratitude, it’s still worth the work being done.

Sounds more to me like a possible communication bobble. My first thought was using an online calendar for coordination may have something to do with matters right there. Some people may not be able to access it well either by their computer being not up to par (forget watching videos with mine), or even not having one at all.

@Cat- Wow. It boggles the mind the thought process of people who continually respond to others kindness like such. I have to wonder what ever do they expect to accomplish with such criticism?

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Michelle P July 30, 2012 at 11:34 am

OP you are awesome for putting forth the effort and time. I don’t care what’s going on with that woman, if she’s not the ill one there is no excuse for that rudeness. Keep on volunteering, the world needs good people like you.

@Nancy, you’re kidding, right? The OP didn’t make it “all about her and her reactions”. The woman’s behavior was rude and unappreciative. Gratitude is not a reward, it’s common courtesy. The OP handled it better than I would have.

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Peaches July 30, 2012 at 11:54 am

I have to agree with OP. Volunteering is fraught with alot “have to”, “you will” , ” it’s always been that way”,” After joining a church 3 years ago, I helped with the annual auction the first year as a resource.
It was actually a good way to see how the “volunteers” worked. The auction was a success. Minister & vestry wanted to try a larger location offsite. I volunteered with 2 members of the vestry to visit a location and inquire if the facility was interested. Facility was agreeable and worked with us tirelessly.

The following year, the auction was again a success at new location. Admittedly, alot of logistics and
growing pains but it was fun. A pat on the back for all the volunteers who did the work & the 3 of us
for the overture. Alot of hard work for all the volunteers and “thank yous” from the parish.

2 months later, I walk past a discussion of how “Non-Volunteer” revised history to say she had initally inquired, set up, etc, etc. “Non-Volunteer” has habits of being hours late to a meeting, needing everything reiterated when she decides to show, micromanaging, etc. Needless to say, I politely reinforced “what group” really did the work, logistics, etc. The reaction was priceless!!!! I politely refused to help with the planning, etc for the auction that year. Everytime I was asked to “assist” with the auction, I gave a polite excuse or “not able”. The day of the auction, “Non-Volunteer” was griping about “how hard the job was and everyone should do her bidding at once”. The parish was well aware of the “Non- Volunteer” with her drama and histrionics. Lesson learned at both ends. BTW, the auction was again a success because things were pulled together by everyone.

I still attend the church, the parish knows I am a hard worker, respectful, and do know right from wrong. Not many have dealt with “Non-Volunteer” and still remained within parish. The feedback
was “Peaches, you have backbone and will not take revisionist history quietly”. Today, I have alot of
friends, work well with the volunteer programs (I’ll be honest, I pick and choose), and make a point to
be fair with everyone.

Saucy girl, & S are right on target.

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TheVapors July 30, 2012 at 12:07 pm

I am 100% OP, and am completely against trying to shame her for her decision.

The OP is allowed to continue or discontinue her volunteer service for any reason she wants. She was volunteering manhours and food, and she was greeted in an appallingly rude way. So, if she feels like that was enough to put her efforts into something else, then good for her! She’s actually going about it the right way.

No, she doesn’t need to give anyone else any consideration over it. She wasn’t rude to the person who answered the door. So, there was no retaliatory rudeness. She wasn’t rude to the person who ran the program. She politely informed them that a family may not want to continue the meals service.

She had an unpleasant experience, decided her volunteer hours were better spent elsewhere. She made a decision, and she went through with it quite gracefully. She didn’t make a stink. She’s fully invested in her other activities. The OP has every single right to decide when and what to volunteer about.

I don’t even care if she was doing for a “thanks”. She’s a volunteer. Her hours. Her materials. If she goes through with it most days to hear a small “thanks”, then who am I to judge anyone who takes the time to actually do something positive? It doesn’t even sound like the OP was doing it for a thanks in the first place, she’d just like not to be snarked at by someone who answers the door. That’s really not asking a lot.

If, given time, she wants to try the meals program with a different family, then more good for her! But, I’m definitely not going to say “maybe she needs to try again”. She found something unpleasant, she found a way out of it, and is going about things elsewhere in a positive manner.

So, OP. Good for you!

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Stacey Frith-Smith July 30, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Re: volunteers who leave- isn’t that the point? Volunteers aren’t there to grit their teeth and endure. That’s not their role. People who make the mistake of assuming it is will lose access. People who recruit volunteers for Make-A-Wish, for church carnivals, for food to the sick etc. often work very hard to get the message out there that help is needed. Treating a volunteer like a disposable commodity makes their job impossible. People who share their lives by volunteering their time, talent, money, technical skills or any other donation are giving a gift. All that is required to sustain their efforts is courtesy, ease of access, training and a positive institutional culture. Given a choice, we don’t work for those who are unpleasant, abusive or who minimize our contribution. Volunteers have TOTAL liberty to come and go. Hastening their departure is foolish, needless, ill-considered and mars the reputation of the institution they served. I would hate to have the name of my family, church, charitable organization, community service group, Parent/Teacher Association or business (Chevron and similar corporations do big projects too at the neighborhood level) associated with a volunteer’s ill treatment or a client’s. It’s also counter-productive in this regard- what kind of message has been communicated to your volunteer base about how people are expected to treat one another both internally and externally? There has to be an accountability structure, especially when clients are vulnerable (children, elderly, disabled, otherwise marginalized). How seriously will that be taken if relationships aren’t truly valued? And barring retention of good volunteers, how often will you have to repeat the training process at every step along the way? So sorry for the ramble! But attracting, training, retaining, and promoting a solid volunteer base is something so many organizations are taxed with. Doing a poor job of it is shamefully wasteful.

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Kirsten July 30, 2012 at 12:23 pm

The OP says she signed up to help a family where the mother was sick. That suggests to me that there were several people in the household who would be eating the food and therefore it might only be one or two days worth of food to that household, but four or five days worth to the OP and her husband who are just two people.

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Caroline July 30, 2012 at 12:32 pm

It can definitely be difficult to continue to volunteer in the face of negativity and rudeness, so I don’t blame the OP for adjusting how she serves at her church. Some of the unsettling volunteer experiences can be circumvented by the committee chair with better communication and follow-up with those requesting help from the church.

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Andie July 30, 2012 at 12:34 pm

If it’s normal or acceptable for the relatives of bed-ridden people to act so poorly, then I’d say the OP found a form of volunteerism that suits her better. Leave the people work to the thicker-skinned.

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Cobbs July 30, 2012 at 1:00 pm

I volunteer at my church for “Family Promise” which is a nationwide organization helping homeless families. Each week a church houses and feeds between two and four families. We host twice a year. The kids go to daycare or the equivalent, or school during the day. The parents look for a job. All arrive back at five PM. The way each person accepts the charity we provide is noticeable. Some are gracious. Others are withdrawn or cold. We accept all behaviors that are not dangerous or illegal. The woman in this submission may be one of the embarrassed ones. Leave the food, if accepted, and leave the rest to heaven. Do what you can with no expectation of thanks.

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sterling July 30, 2012 at 1:05 pm

I don’t blame the OP for no longer doing food. If the program is so poorly run that they are still sending people with food after they have been told to stop it is poorly run. This results in the people delivering food having rude reactions hurled at them.

The OP may not be “entitled” to anything since it is charity work but then again the person receiving the help isn’t “entitled” to anything either.

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Ann July 30, 2012 at 1:12 pm

She is still volunteering, and in a way that suits her better. That’s just fine, in my books.

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Sarah Jane July 30, 2012 at 1:38 pm

OP…lasagna and apple crisp sound heavenly…I’ll bet your talents and graciousness would be treasured by many, and I hope you’ll reconsider your decision not to serve in this ministry anymore.

I can’t vouch for the lady’s rudeness…as someone said, maybe the sick person’s illness was overly taxing for her. Maybe someone in the family had an allergy to the types of food that were being brought to the house. Maybe this lady takes issue with this church or churches in general. Who knows? But NONE of this excuses her behavior.

Let me point out that I am really saddened by the possibility that the sick parishioner for whom this kindness was originally intended has no idea this even happened. She might not have even wanted this lady answering her door. Sometimes overbearing relatives will come in and take over without being asked, and the sick person is…well…too sick to protest.

In my church, this type of volunteer program is set up not only to help people, but to spread God’s love to others. And that sounds like exactly what this rude lady needed.

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Saucygirl July 30, 2012 at 2:30 pm

I totally agree that volunteers shouldn’t be treated badly. But I feel they shouldn’t be treated badly by the organization they volunteer for, not necessarily the end beneficiary. With make a wish, the people who worked for Maw were great to the volunteers. They provided lots of positive feedback and assistance and always made sure we knew we were appreciated as volunteers. And the volunteers, jaded or not, always did a great job because they wanted to make the kids happy, regardless of how the parents or other older family members were. If ops email to the church (which is who she volunteers for, not this one specific beneficiary) was met with a nice and apologetic response, that is the response that should matter, in my opinion.

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Cat July 30, 2012 at 2:58 pm

For those who wonder why I help my neighbor who critiques my food… There is a good reason which I cannot explain as I gave my word not to discuss it. Sometimes we do what is right regardless of how it is received simply because it is right to do it.

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Selphie Trabia July 30, 2012 at 4:15 pm

I like the idea of taking food to the sick people in church. For a city church like mine, it’s a very novel idea because most of our congregation members do not have family, are students and live alone. I know I could have used this sort of help when I was sick.

I’m going to suggest this at the next church meeting.

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sv July 30, 2012 at 4:56 pm

In a society where not nearly enough of us volunteer, the OP is still volunteering – just in a way that gives her satisfaction and makes her happy. What’s wrong with that? There is no need for her to put herself in a position where she feels uncomfortable and underappreciated.

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Cher630 July 30, 2012 at 7:44 pm

I really don’t blame the OP for not wanting to prepare meals for the sick anymore. She took the time to make lasagna and apple crisp for a family for 4-5 days…not an easy feat! Even if the person who opened the door was upset and even she said the message a hundred times that day, it doesn’t give her the right to be rude to someone trying to help out.

The OP didn’t say she stopped volunteering altogether…she is still helping her church, just in other ways. Why should she take all the time to do something nice for someone just to be yelled at and not not even thanked?! I know volunteers don’t do good deeds for a pat on the back, but to be yelled at and not thanked for doing something for a family who needs help is disheartening.

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Melnick July 30, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Well said TheVapors. I felt a little sick when I saw the attempt to shame her. She gave up her time as well as her money to purchase and make the food. She should be congratulated not chastised. Good on you. Don’t take any of the harsh advice to heart – some people genuinely find it easy to let things roll off their back and others find it pierces their heart. I admire your choice to find another way to help out. :)

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Otter July 30, 2012 at 8:14 pm

As to the amount of food OP was dropping off, she said she was giving to a family. What would be one meal for a family would be several days worth to a household of only 2 people. So, OP was not dropping off too much. There is no excuse for that lady’s response. I would have turned on my heel and left with the food (and frozen portions for hubby and I – yummy!)

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David July 30, 2012 at 11:49 pm

I’m going to approach this from a slightly different perspective – How do we know that the rude person who answered the door was in a position to even speak for the sick person? While I understand everyone wanting to give the rude woman the benefit of the doubt, for all we know the sick person was listening to the conversation going; “Oh thank goodness! I won’t have to eat Aunty Rudeness’s cooking for a couple days yet!”

I’m sorry this happened to you, OP. I’m glad ou found a way to volunteer that doesn’t expose you to nonsense like this anymore.

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Chicalola July 31, 2012 at 7:06 am

I don’t agree that it was rash for the OP to stop volunteering this way. Why expose yourself to potentially negative situations, that would make you resent helping at all? We are all different. One experience like this would cause me to find another way to volunteer as well. I don’t do well with all social interactions, and if I was hesitant at all to do it, this would stop me. Maybe someday she will start it again, but why put her down when she’s found another way to help her church with HER time?

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lkb July 31, 2012 at 11:00 am

Count me among those that suggest giving the (admittedly rude) door-answerer a little slack. I too think this might be the household’s umpteenth meal and they may have already pleaded with the particular ministry umpteen times to please stop already. (Who knows? Maybe all the other food-givers have also given lasagna and apple crisp too? (It’s what I tend to bring.))

The person who answered the door may have just been dealing with insurance woes, a cranky patient, other family issues, lack of sleep, a stream of stangers in the house, etc. or a combination of all these and more.

Sometimes too, a person doesn’t know he or she is not suited for a particular ministry without having tried it. These ministries are not all that easy. Bravo to OP for finding work that suits.

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Anon1973 July 31, 2012 at 12:04 pm

I’ve been yelled at quite a few times so I don’t volunteer any more. Period. It doesn’t matter what the reasoning is behind someone’s rudeness, I refuse to be treated that way. If I truly care about an organization I will give money, but no, sorry, I will not volunteer.

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Nancy July 31, 2012 at 12:46 pm

I’m sorry that my comment might have read as shaming the OP, which wasn’t my intention, and the woman at the door was definitely rude.

@Saucygirl said it much better than I did: people that need the help of volunteers are by definition in a crappy place in their lives. I’ve been a Planned Parenthood worker and volunteer for many years, and the best people here are completely jaded, as Saucygirl puts it, and extraordinarily forgiving and thick-skinned. To my way of thinking, you volunteer not for the temporal rewards it brings, but because it’s the right thing to do. And that’s enough sanctimony out of me for today.

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Rei July 31, 2012 at 3:59 pm

That’s true, Nancy, but if a particular type of volunteering leaves you in tears or near it, best to find a way to help without inflicting misery on yourself.

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Nancy July 31, 2012 at 9:42 pm

True that, Rei!

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WriterSinger August 2, 2012 at 11:57 am

I had a similar experience a few years ago trying to take a meal to a young couple at my church. The wife had approached me some months after the birth of their first child and mentioned that they could use a home-baked meal. She and I set up a date and time when I would provide them with a dinner, cooked to her specifications, and I was to call her before I left my house to make sure she was home and ready.

On the appointed day, I created and packed a fresh, hot meal that took into account her allergies and her husband’s preferences. However, when I called her at the appointed time, her husband answered and blew me away with his rudeness. He stated that his wife wasn’t home, he knew nothing about our plans, he wouldn’t accept a meal, I wasn’t welcome in their home and he wouldn’t tell his wife that I had called. I told him goodbye, hung up and invited a close friend over for an impromptu dinner.

The wife called a few days later to ask me what had happened to her dinner. When I repeated my conversation with her husband, she acknowledged that she had left the house, and that she knew her husband could be “tempermental,” as she put it. However, she was angry with me–not her husband– because she felt that the onus of finding a better way to deal with the situation was on me (e.g., I should have kept calling until she got home, or left the dinner on the main doorstep of their apartment building with a clear label, or waited outside the main door of the building until she came home). She requested that I re-create the meal and bring it to them that evening. I declined.

Since then, I only take meals to people that I know. I’ve had a few other negative experiences taking food to people who have requested it, but nothing tops the entitled couple.

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