Updated: Apr 5

A story about a boy named John and his impact on me.

So, what does it mean to be a Girl Scout? Well, according to a current member, being a Girl Scout means stepping out of your comfort zone and helping others. It means doing things for others rather than yourself and feeling good about it. That feeling you get from being a Girl Scout is exactly what you experience when you volunteer at Hospitality House.

I was first introduced to the saying, “Be a Girl Scout” while volunteering at Hospitality House one morning. A couple of friends and I had come in early to make breakfast for the residents. On the menu was scrambled eggs, grits, and toast. Though simple, a freshly cooked breakfast like this one is not offered all the time because not many people want to volunteer at 6 am. This in mind, having a fresh, hot breakfast means a lot to the residents and it is very rewarding to see their smiles as they come through the line.

One specific smile that caught my eye that day belonged to a little boy named John. This was the first time I had seen him. Initially, John was a bit standoffish and didn’t talk much; instead, he would shake his head “yes” or “no” in response to what he wanted for breakfast and to top it off he would add a subtle smirk to each answer. Maybe it’s because we were complete strangers, eagerly waiting to shout “good morning” to the next person we saw come through the line and he just so happened to be the lucky winner. Or maybe he thought not saying anything would prevent any future communication between us. Fortunately, he was wrong.

Once John got his food I noticed he was sitting alone and I saw this as the perfect opportunity to investigate my curiosity, so I made myself a plate and joined him. After a few icebreakers, John started to open up and we eventually got to know one another pretty well. Besides talking about his family, school, and our love for grits with sugar, I got to hear John’s take on Hospitality House. One question I asked him was, "what's your favorite thing to do at Hospitality House," thinking I would receive an answer related to playing outside. I was wrong. John’s favorite thing to do at Hospitality House was “eat.”

I was speechless and shocked to hear someone so young give an answer like that. Ultimately, I was ashamed for jumping to conclusions and more or less taking what I have for granted when I am surrounded by a community of people who are not as fortunate. I was sure that the question would put an end to my conversation with John, but to my surprise, he had a different approach. A bracelet. More specifically, his bracelet. To seal the start of our friendship, John gave me his bracelet to keep as my own, but that’s not the only thing I left with that day.

Initially, I walked into Hospitality House with intentions to make breakfast and brighten someone’s day. I left with a profound love for the kids living at Hospitality House, specifically John, and a new outlook on life. I realize that someone can have anything and everything they have ever wanted and not be near as happy as someone who has nothing but is willing to give all they have.

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Hospitality House, a regional nonprofit transitional living facility and crisis assistance resource center, serves seven rural North Carolina counties (Watauga, Wilkes, Ashe, Avery, Alleghany, Mitchell, and Yancey) providing housing, prevention, and nutrition. Since 1984, the mission of Hospitality House has been to rebuild lives and strengthen community by providing a safe, nurturing, healthy environment in which individuals and families experiencing homelessness and poverty-related crises are equipped to become self-sufficient and productive. Federal Tax ID 56-1442966.

Non-Discrimination Policy: Hospitality House does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, class, income status, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. These activities include, but are not limited to, hiring and firing of staff, selection of volunteers and vendors, and provision of services. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our staff, volunteers, subcontractors, vendors, and clients. As an intern you are expected to represent the Hospitality House and adhere to our Non-Discrimination Policy. 

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