At least once a week for the past two years, Terry Oles has rolled out of his bed in a cozy downtown loft and headed around the corner to volunteer at Morning Glory Café, part of Morning Glory Ministries and a Harvesters’ partner agency.

The café is housed inside the basement of The Catholic Center, a ministry of the Cathedral of Our Immaculate Conception feeding the homeless. The line forms early on the loading dock where unhoused Kansas Citians line up rain or shine for a hearty breakfast from 7-8:30 a.m. every Tuesday through Friday and lunch on Saturday and Sunday.

The line looks in some respects like a TSA line, with most of the men and some women juggling all their possessions in a small suitcase or backpack while balancing a breakfast tray balanced in the other hand.

Terry, 62 and soon-to-retire from his post as vice president of operations at Meyer Laboratory, stumbled on the volunteer opportunity by accident.

“There was always a line out the door and I didn’t know what it was, so I asked somebody in the church one day, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ and they said, ‘Well, we feed the homeless every day.’”

“I’d never volunteered in a soup kitchen, but always knew that a lot of people go hungry,” Terry continues. “If you don’t have food and you don’t have shelter it’s hard to exist in this world, so I have a big passion for helping people. I think that’s my calling.”

While helping to reheat breakfast casseroles, making coffee and cleaning dishes, Terry also tries his best to make the homeless diners smile.

“You try to get them smile or say something to interact with them. If you can get 15 or 20 percent to smile or say something back, then you’ve done your job! Serving food is easy. It’s trying to get them to talk and learning about them is a whole other thing,” he says.

Terry, and his wife, a Blue Springs school teacher who frequently pays off lunch bills and donates clothes to her students, take advantage of city amenities, including walking, biking, attending events and frequenting nearby restaurants and bars. But whenever Terry sees a neighbor he has served Morning Glory Café, Terry makes it a point to say hello.

“It’s important to say something because not many people will speak to homeless people. There’s a fear. I understand that, but they’re just people, and all you (need to) try and do is ask them how their day is and smile,” he says. “Typically, they’ll say ‘great,’ which you know is not true. (But) that’s what we’re here for: To make somebody’s day better.”

Terry’s recipe for success is simple: Make eye contact and ask how their day is going. You’ll usually get a short answer, sometimes you’ll get a smile. If they are hungry and ask for something, “there are plenty of places in Kansas City they can go eat,” he says.

Terry recalls times growing up and raising children when he worried if the family had enough to eat. “I grew up rather poor. We had food. We had shelter. But I always knew there wasn’t a lot,” he says.

Volunteering at Morning Glory Café has become his wake-up call.

“People have to eat. People in the entire world are not eating. Hunger is getting worse everywhere. It’s in our backyard and we ignore it,” he says.