Monday, November 24, 2014

Adventures On Commercial Street

Last Tuesday my friends Alicia, Cynarra and I did some volunteer work at The Missouri Hotel. Although I wasn't sure that helping out at a homeless shelter was the most appropriate opportunity for a photo session, I cannot be stopped. Here is our experience in photos.

While my friends went to the front desk to check us in, I began snapping. Here is the front entrance staircase. It makes you wonder when the hotel was built, who stayed here, and how it eventually made its turn to giving shelter to those with no place else to go.

Front entrance Missouri Hotel

Alicia was apprehensive about taking selfies and having fun in a space where people are down on their luck. I, on the other hand, felt like being joyful was totally ok.

Leanne and Alicia

The kitchen space. 

The kitchen

We put on our aprons and hair nets and prepared to serve food.

Leanne and Cynarra

Alicia signed people in for the census. Everyone who eats must be counted.

Very important looking with her clip board.

Cynarra served the hot food of chicken nuggets, green beans and macaroni and cheese. Needless to say, her stretch of buffet was the most popular. I was on dessert (a chocolate cake and some Sponge Bob cupcakes) and the salad and vegetable section. I was working in this area with another volunteer named Shelby. He is a regular volunteer at the hotel and was really helpful in showing us where things were located in the refrigerator and answering other questions we had.

The serving station

Cynarra is ready for business!

The guys back in the kitchen were very helpful and answered any questions we had. One guy, Dave I believe his name is, told us that the food is all donated. A lot of it is from grocery stores after it has expired and they can no longer keep it on the shelves. He mentioned that a lot of the frozen food they get is badly freezer burned and can't be used and that the dairy has to be carefully inspected before they serve it because it too is usually out of date when they get it. Churches and other organizations make donations as well, but by the end of the day I felt that even more than volunteers, the hotel could benefit from quality food donations.

The pass through to the kitchen.

With all the light streaming in the big windows it was difficult getting a photo of the dining area.

The dining area looking out on Commercial St.

Dave was in charge of the kitchen operations. He signed us in when we arrived and showed us the ropes.

Dave in the kitchen.

The kitchen crew.

Before we left I insisted that we get a photo with the volunteers.

Dave (well, half of Dave), Cynarra, Kevin, me, Alicia and Shelby

I am really glad we went and spent some time at The Missouri Hotel. I recommend volunteering at least once to gain some perspective on your community. Even more important, I feel, are the food donations and if your church or other group can collect food to donate, it would feed a lot of grateful people. Fresh food and perishables are the most needed. For more details on what to donate or how to volunteer please call 417-837-1540. 

After leaving the hotel we decided to stop at the fire station a few doors down. Alicia's husband, Marcus, is a fire man and he is stationed at the location on Commercial St. 

Of course the first thing I wanted to do was climb up into a fire truck.

Inside the cab of a fire truck.

Oh, no! Someone melted! Just kidding. Gear on the ground next to the truck so they can suit up quick after a call.

Control and gauge panel on the side of the truck.

Hallway heading to the rec room.

Some of the other firemen, who had just finished lunch.

Marcus gave us the full tour and I won't share all the pics I took (because really, how rude would I be if I showed you the locker room and shower) but I wanted to share the sleep area. I just think it's interesting and most people don't usually think about how these guys live to be available as our first responders to keep us safe.

Slumber party at the fire station!

Of course, with that many guys in one space, you gotta have rules!

The highlight of our visit was when Marcus took Cynarra and I up in the bucket! Alicia stayed on the ground to take photos.

Marcus, Leanne and Cynarra in the bucket.

Wave for the camera!

The bucket can go up to 100 feet! At about four stories up I thought we were plenty high and we stopped.

Just chillin' in the clouds.

I've known Marcus since I was 13 and he was Alicia's first real boyfriend (I've known her and Cynarra for even longer!). These are some of my closest childhood friends!

Marcus in his gear.

Leanne, Cynarra, Marcus and Alicia!

That concludes our adventure on Commercial Street. I might not be blogging very much this week with Thanksgiving in a few days but I hope to get a least one more small post up before Thursday. 

~ Love & Light ~

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