Cristian Cedacero ’12 has been donating his time to the Community Lunch Program at First United Methodist Church on Main Street since his sophomore year. He volunteers almost every Friday, first doing so through a service learning class, “Food, Agriculture, and Society.” Cedacero has worked every phase of the program, from prepping the food and setting up the dining room, to serving the food and cleaning up after.
He says his reason for returning consistently, week after week is because of the sense of community built at the program. He has formed a strong bond with his fellow volunteers, calling the group “his family,” and referring to many of the older women as his “adoptive grandmothers.” The affection is mutual. Other volunteers speak of him in very high regards, saying that Cedacero is unique because he comes every week.
Connie Sullivan, the director of the program, says, “Cristian has a bigger vision of what he’s going for. He is mature, focused and a joy to have down here. I don’t know where he’s going in life, but one thing’s for sure: he’ll be a good cook!”
Cedacero, a sociology major and International Relations minor, is also drawn back to the Community Lunch Program every week by the chance to see Geneva from another perspective. He explains that having this chance to get off campus and see a different community-and a different side of Geneva-is eye-opening. Knowing the names of many of the people who he serves, and recognizing the people who come to eat at the lunch program frequently, is very important to him. He says that through the program, he feels like he is making a difference in their lives.
The Community Lunch Program has been operating for more than 25 years. Daily, about six to 12 volunteers serve 40 to 80 people. The older volunteers say they love seeing college students join the effort. Sullivan says every experience she’s had with a Hobart and William Smith student has been great, and all the hours of volunteerism have been appreciated.