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Meet Becky Stroh
Clinical Documentation Supervisor, Sanford Health
As a nurse, Becky Stroh understands the importance of treating everyone with respect and dignity. She exemplifies this principle in her workplace, but she also demonstrates it off the clock, too.
Since January 2018, Becky has volunteered weekly with Heaven’s Helpers Soup Cafe in Bismarck, North Dakota. The Soup Cafe offers a free meal to anyone who needs it. While it’s technically a soup kitchen, the cafe operates like a restaurant. Patrons seat themselves and order off a menu from volunteer servers.
Heaven’s Helpers Soup Cafe helps the community, but the community also helps them. The cafe is completely supported by donations and volunteers.
“It’s heartwarming to see the community come together,” Becky says. “It’s phenomenal how much is donated.”
The soups and sandwiches on the menu are based on what’s in the kitchen. People often bring leftovers from their wedding feast or call to ask what the cafe needs. Stores around Bismarck are huge supporters and give what they can.
Becky’s title is PIC (Person in Charge). During her shifts, she leads other volunteers and makes sure the cafe is running smoothly.
Everything she does is for the cafe’s patrons.
“We serve people who are going through a tough time. Some of them don’t have jobs or they just can’t make ends meet. At the cafe, they don’t have to worry about putting food on their table or feeding their family,” Becky says.
She tries to offer them more than food.
“Sometimes all they want is for someone to listen to them or to see a familiar face,” she says. “You get to know them by name. Some patrons go days without hearing someone else say their name. I make a point of saying their name and listening.”
Even though Becky gives her time, she gets something out of her service, too.
“It’s just fulfilling for me. Sometimes I feel like I get more out of it than they do. It puts my life in perspective and makes me an overall better person,” she says. “That’s what keeps me coming back. It feels good.”
Becky gives her time every Tuesday after work to oversee the closing shift. She serves food, cleans, sanitizes and makes sure the cafe is ready for the next day.
Volunteering is sometimes a family affair for her. Becky’s husband, who she calls her sidekick, joins her when he can. On Christmas Day and Eve, her kids often volunteer right beside her.
Becky is always on a mission to recruit more volunteers. She knows what gets people to sign up and how to keep them coming back. To get them through the door, she shares stories about her time at the cafe and the people she serves. It’s very effective.
Once they finish a shift, they’ll usually be back if they have time.
“If people come and volunteer and know how much they’re appreciated, that’s all it takes,” Becky says. “It’s not something you need to talk people into.”
Working with the other volunteers is one of her favorite parts of giving her time. Many were once patrons and they’re now giving back in gratitude for the help they received.
Every volunteer has a unique story and reason for being there. Some of the people Becky works beside are mandated to be there to fulfill court orders or school obligations, but even those volunteers often go beyond what they’re required to do. And to her, that’s the power of giving back.
Volunteering at Heaven’s Helpers Soup Cafe has shown Becky one thing above all else.
“There’s a lot of good people out there,” she says.