Have you ever served someone less fortunate than you and made judgments about why they are in their current situation? Has this mindset prevented you from fully loving them and treating them with respect? What rich experiences could you be missing out on?
Recently, the Mormon Channel radio program Here to Help traveled to Chicago to record an incredible story about one woman who is changing the restaurant scene one troubled teen at a time. Her name is Susan Trieschmann. She’s been in the restaurant industry for the past 25 years, and when she met a group of underprivileged teens in her community—those who were homeless or had a run-in with the law—her heart went out to them. She kept hearing them say over and over again, “If I had a job, I wouldn’t be in this situation.” So she quit her job, took out a loan, and opened Curt’s Café to train these teens not just on the ins and outs of the restaurant business but also in basic reading and math skills, as well as how to be independent, financially savvy, productive adults.
While it’s a great feeling for Susan to be able to help these kids, it doesn’t come without its sacrifices. She hasn’t taken a paycheck in years, and most of her training staff work as volunteers as well.
One of the most important things Susan says she and her staff can do for these students is to make them feel like they are accepted and that they have potential. Coming from the streets of Chicago, this isn’t a feeling these students are familiar with. They’re used to people walking on the other side of the street when they see them coming or thinking that they have nothing to offer the world. Susan says, “I can look past what they did because it’s not who they are.” If they’re here and ready to make some positive changes in their lives, then Susan welcomes them with open arms and treats them like family. And it’s because of this attitude that Susan says the relationships she’s developed at Curt’s makes her feel like “the richest girl in the world.”
If you are looking for more ways to serve in your own community and abroad, please visit www.justserve.org.