Why Sharon and Patricia Volunteer at Water Street Mission

If you visit the dining hall on a Thursday around lunch, odds are you’ll meet Sharon Burnside and Patricia McBride, two of our longtime friends who volunteer at Water Street Mission.

Sharon has been serving at Water Street for six years, Patricia since 2011. Consistency comes to mind when talking to the two. When asked about why they show up in the kitchen week after week, the answer is simple: 

“We love it. It’s one of the high points of my week,” Sharon says.

Seeing lives changed 

They thoroughly enjoy serving, from preparing for the lunch rush by making sure plates, food boxes and utensils are in place to handing guests their meals prepared by Chef Terrence and the kitchen staff. Having volunteered for over a decade, what Patricia has always seen on campus is a deep respect for the guests. 

“Everybody deserves respect. It doesn’t matter what situation or condition brought people here. We’re all one step away.”

Sharon brings up God’s presence.

“There is so much love, and you experience God’s presence here. By serving, we get to have the opportunity to see lives changed.”

Throughout the years, both of them have seen former guests get back on their feet after staying at Water Street.

“Some years ago, there was a young man who came in. He was very nice, but a bit scary-looking. Your typical goth extreme. Week by week, month by month, I saw that he was able to get a job and eventually get out to live on his own. Seeing that was just amazing.”

300 meals every day 

The dining hall – where 300 meals are served every single day – is where you’ll find the majority of individuals who volunteer at Water Street Mission. Guests are served three meals each day and volunteers play an important part in making that happen.

“Someone asked me not too long ago, if I was still helping out at the “soup kitchen”. I chuckled a bit, and said, it’s anything but a soup kitchen! The chefs are extremely talented and the food is so, so good,” Patricia says.

Volunteers get to eat, too, Sharon explains. A delicious perk of serving in the kitchen at Water Street. Whether you’re serving a meal, hosting a donation drive, helping at the food bank at our Outreach Center, or spending time with our guests at the day shelter, your actions communicate love.

By volunteering your time, you can help other individuals on their healing journeys.

“A phrase I like to use is; bless others and be blessed,” Sharon says.

We believe each volunteer at Water Street Mission is created by God to serve a unique purpose in His kingdom. Our vision is to foster a volunteer community that not only furthers the purposes of the mission, but also provides opportunities for volunteers to take their next steps on their journeys of personal and spiritual development.

Curious about volunteering? Check out our online recourses here. If you’re ready to get started, you can create a new account in our volunteer portal.