Wednesday 3 March 2010

Food for Thought

Every Friday, I walked past the trestle tables of bakery goods, drinks and a large pot of soup and didn't pay much attention.

It was all part of the scenery in the busy city Centre, which over time becomes a blur.

One day I noticed through the crowds of people milling around the tables, a tiny woman ladling soup into cups. You could barely see her over the extremely large pot of soup.

Who was she, I wondered.
I became very curious and I started to pay more attention when I would walk by, deliberately slowing down to catch sight of her. She was there every Friday and seemed very feisty and opinionated.

One day I decided to stop and speak to her.

I soon realised that if you hang round this lady for even a few seconds she will either put you to work or make you try her soup.

Stasia Dabrowski doesn’t think there is anything special about what she does. She is 84 years old and for the last 28 years she has been feeding the hungry and disadvantaged every Friday in the city centre.

She helped her son start the Soup Kitchen after he beat his heroin addiction and then after he went to Europe to live she just kept it going.

She gets up at 4am on Fridays to chop and peel 150kg of vegetables to make the “best soup in the world”. She uses a lot of her own money to do so.

“It’s just veges, veges, veges”, she said “because meat is poison. Go to Europe and you will find out, animals eat grass for their own energy and you eat what is left of it”.

This lady is one of life's characters.

Stasia was born in the southern mountains of Poland in 1926. During the occupation of Poland in WWII her family's lives were devastated — she lost everything and was driven into forced labour. After WWII she worked as a nurse and matron before moving to Australia with her husband and young family.

As her qualifications were not recognised in Australia she did voluntary house cleaning and emergency services for the Red Cross, looking after the bedridden and needy. She started cooking and providing essentials for the needy in the late 1970s, the start of the Soup Kitchen.

When I asked her why she does it, week after week, she said, “You don’t do it because you enjoy it, it’s because it’s your responsibility. You are doing what is right. Enjoyment is not enough”.

“People have forgotten their responsibility that’s why we have so many problems today,” she said gesturing around.

“They don’t understand, death, caring and compassion.

“You must love one another, help one another, never judging. If you know right from wrong, put it into practice.”

It’s simple, isn’t it?

Sometimes it’s worth opening your eyes to the lessons that are right there in front of you.

But like I did for years, so often we just walk on by.
Have a beautiful Wednesday everyone. And A BIG HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my baby sister Anne-Maree!


  1. Oh Lilly, what a lovely story and what an amzing lady she is. I feel that people who have suffered so much have a great deal of empathy for others. I bet she reminded you of your grandmother hey? That warmed my heart.

  2. Superb post... “People have forgotten their responsibility that’s why we have so many problems today,” - so, so true!

  3. Her Light lifts many. She has a loving perspective and walks her walk. Impressive.

  4. She is a force for humanity, that's for sure. Funny when you really look, you see so much more then you ever expected.
    Your story was so heartwarming. Thanks for sharing.

  5. wow that was a stop worth your time. Thanks for sharing what you found.
    You probably have heard of the "greatest generation" being used for the generation that brought us through WWII. The hardship of the depression and then war produced some amazing people.
    Tom Brokaw argues that these men and women fought not for fame and recognition, but because it was the right thing to do.
    I believe disasters do bring out the best in people, but it's sad that we need a disaster to act that way.
    That lady appears to be a great person and you should certainly let her know that.

  6. @ Lisleman - thansk for such an interesting comment. You are right about the greatest generation. It is so true. You have given me food for thought from your comment too!

  7. It's a beautiful story and at the same time, very sad, because what she said is true. People seem to be about "me, me, me"... comparing and contrasting to what they have with others, keeping up with the neighbors and showing off to the friends. Life isn't about that. We make it harder for ourselves instead of helping on another...

    Thank you for talking the time to talk with Stasia and share her story.

  8. This is truly very inspiring. People like her are really passionate in helping people and they don't ask anything in return. We should really extend our hands to help others. Thank you for sharing!

  9. Lilly, I love that you not only noticed her, but took the time to hear her story. We lose so much when older generations pass on without telling us their stories!

    Thank you for this, Lilly!

  10. That is so inspiring. Stasia is one tough lady - She really is Mother Courage.


  11. Thanks for the inspiration and for sharing Stasia's meaningful life! We do have responsibility for each other.

  12. Stasia is what STRENGTH is all about. Strength to help, strength to give, strength to face up, and strength to know when to let go. Her immense ability seems to come from the huge altruistic gene she has. Helped her son defeat his addiction. Then he goes off. She lets him be. But continues what she believes in, is her responsibility, to always remain active, help folks, and tell it like it is.

    Attagirl Stasia. Lilly, would you shake her hand for me when you see her next. I would be greatly honored ....

  13. @ Ugich - I will. I hope I get to shake your hand one day too, oh make that a hug! Des says hello!!

    @ Can-Can - she is such an interesting lady and tough as nails too!

    @ Henry - Mother Courage - I like that!

    @ Aleta - something tells me you have it in bucketloads. You and your family are inspiring to me.

    @ Rhonda - yes, I know, there are so many people jsut under our noses who have great stories to tell and who need our help to help others.

  14. Blessings to people like Stasia! They are the folks who keep the heart of this world alive.

    And thank you for stopping to ask for her story. We all need to pay a little more attention to the people around us, I'm thinking!

  15. @ Svasti - its true and they are the unsung heroes who just go about it quietly. Thanks for dropping by.

  16. Stasia is right we are responsible for each other but like you said, we walk on by. Here in our town you will see men standing on the corners with signs, asking for money or food, we use to ignore them but lately we have given them a few bucks. Thanks for coming by. Have a nice day.

  17. There are so many like this in our midst, and its true, we so often don't realize how wise they are and how much they have to offer. We get so caught up in our own heads and our own lives, we hurry past so many, so often. I'm glad you told her story, an angel in our midst. Thanks for this little gem, Lilly, its so good to hear your voice!

  18. What a special person, this little old lady! Such an inspiration, and makes me kind of ashamed that we do so little!
    Thanks for sharing that Lily! I´m also glad to see you posting so regularly. Hope you are well! Hugs,
    from BEtty

  19. such wise words, they helped me today, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by responsibility. It's a good thing. Thanks. I should keep some of those quotes handy.

  20. Flavoured
    by the sharp onion,
    the cooperative tomato,
    unbending carrots,
    she stirs in
    the pungent green peppers
    as the dawn sun
    across the Canberra sky.

    Errant clouds
    hanging around
    to see the soup,
    are politely
    for the day
    must dawn
    clear and warm
    and full of hope.

    Just like
    Stasia's Soup,
    a wonderful
    orchestra of veggies,
    bringing hope and warmth
    to some of us
    lonely souls,
    all so worried about
    me, me and me.

    Like the carrot
    said to the pepper,
    "we're not so great
    by ourselves,
    but in Stasia's soup
    we bring out the best
    when we stay together...."

  21. Absolutely bloody marvelous, Lilly....and I especially love her for being truly compassionate: vegetarian. Anyone who speaks of compassion and eats meat is a bloody idiot....

  22. Ugich Konitari's poem is spot on with the last line "we bring out the best when we stay together...", just like Stasia said. When I talk to anyone who went through the world wars and the depression...they never speak of being unhappy then...they speak of family sticking together and communities working together for a better future. That future is now and yet we are all so unhappy. Food for thought.

    Thanks for stopping and sharing Stasia's philosophy with us.

  23. What a wonderful person. If only there were more people like her in the world.

  24. @ Ugich, SUPERB. I will be giving this to Stasia. You are one very clever and talented woman. Thank you for that.

    Thanks for your comments everyone. I am sure we do not have to look too hard to find lots of Stasias in the world either. And Christine, its interesting isnt it her views about responsibility, she welcomes it rather than fears it.

  25. What a wonderful woman! I got goosebumps reading it! You are a woman of compassion and love too, or you wouldn't have stopped to talk to her!

  26. Lily,
    She's an amzing person, isn't she? You're just as amazing for noticing her, taking the time to talk and know her, and for writing this wonderful piece about her.

    We need more people like you and her.

    God Bless,

  27. What a WONDERFUL incredible woman! Very Inspiring Lilly...To have gone through all she has and STILL value life and people to the extent she does. I bet that soup is Scrumptious!!!
    Thanks for this, my dear Lilly.

  28. Happy Birthday Anne-Maree!!!!

    Lilly, This was a wonderful post. I wish school kids could tour Mrs. Dabrowski's soup kitchen and spend time hearing about the life she's lead. I think they'd learn a world of lessons from her.

    She's so inspiring! Thanks for sharing.


  29. Thanks ladies for your comments Joanna I agree. some people have such a big history really and jsut get on with it and no-one would be any the wiser. She is a gorgeous wee thing is Stasia.

  30. What a great woman and I bet the soup is wonderful. Imagine all those years making soup. That is a LONG time and I imagine her true worth will only be known when she is not there to do it anymore.

  31. Fabulous post, Lilly. Stasia is an amazing woman. What a pleasure for you to have met her. I am inspired, now. Thank you. Happy Birthday to your sister!

  32. @ Rowe, thanks lovely. Its a lot of hard work isnt over a lot of years. Some people are clearly born saints I think. And as others have said, when you suffer a great deal you can go two ways, bitter and twisted or have a burning desire to help others.

  33. What a wonderful story. I think it is so important to teach our children her same values these days but sadly there are so many others that don't feel the same way. My 15yr old is doing a 30hr famine to help those in need, she gets it!

  34. @ Mind of a Mom - clearly you ahve bought her up with the right values, hats off to you!

  35. If there were more people like her in this world, it would truly be heaven on earth.

  36. Over from Braja. Love this post.

  37. seems so simple.
    how do we ever manage to make such a mess of things?

    nice post ms lilly!

  38. Hi Lilly,

    What an amazing woman. God love and protect her, it would be wonderful if more people were like her.

    Good for you too being nosy and checking her out ! By doing so you were able to draw attention to her good deeds... you never know what goodness and result your comments have made.

    I remember reading somewhere that you should never pass by a person who is begging, no-one knows who he or she is or what hardships some people have had to contend with in their lives, so folk should never judge.

    There but for the grace of God etc.

    Hugs, Kate x.

  39. I came from Braja. It's been way too long!

    Such a good reminder.

    Thanks, Lilly.

  40. @ Kate, thanks for your lovely, lovely comment!

  41. I just found you again on Braja's blog!!! For so long, you had no posts... and I thought you left!!!

    I loved this one... of course... I am slowly but surely becoming a vegetarian and trying to wean my family of meat as well... and the quote from her was powerful!!!

    So glad you are writing again!

  42. It's individuals like Stasia that makes a wonderful world....

  43. What an inspiring meeting with a wonderful woman!

  44. Fantastic and so Inspirational...My first time here and got referred by a fellow blogger...and I know it won't be the last... :)

    Thank you for this inspirational tale of an extraordinary women, perhaps its dejavu, that today happens to be Women's Day as I read it.

    PS: Happy Women's Day!!!

  45. great post great thoughts, what a wonderful woman!

  46. Came over on the bus from Braja's.
    What a coincidence that this post is up now. I just had a group in my home two evening ago and our topic was this exact thing and then we defined actions we could all take to change the fact that we tend to not reach out like we should.

  47. What a wonderful post...a special human being who touched the hearts of many. Thanks for introducing her to us.

  48. "You don't do it because you enjoy it, it's because it's your responsibility."

    *Bows in respect*

    This post made my day. Thanks :)

  49. that is beautiful Lilly. Glad Christine linked this from her blog.

    I have to wonder too how did she learn to be a nurse when in Labour camps, etc?

    Good to hear from you and hope you are well.

  50. @ Mmmm, thanks for dropping by, I will be over to catch up on your blog soon.

  51. siles. wonderful post she sounds like quite the lady...braja sent me over today to learn some compassion....

  52. A wonderful, wonderful story....I wish we were all half as compassionate as Stasia....xv

  53. Hi Lilly,
    Thanks to Braja I got introduced to your beautiful blog and this post did teach me a lesson. I wonder if the lady in the photo is the same you mentioned about....


Thanks for your comments.