She was barely five feet tall, making it a challenge for her to reach inside the containers of food along the counter. Speaking only Korean, she conveyed her needs by pointing. I responded to each gesture, handing her a stalk of celery, a half dozen jalapeños, a few apples, some lettuce. We filled her bag at the Karsh Family Social Service Center food pantry that Sunday morning, and wordlessly, she bowed to thank me as she headed for the door. But then she stopped and turned around. “Shalom,” she said with a big smile.
And there it was: one word, a heartwarming Hebrew word at that, reminding me that the chief beneficiaries of volunteering are not just the people we serve.