Overwhelmed

If you read our posts – or follow us on FaceBook, you may have noticed that most of our posts are written from our organization – not any one person. We’re going to change that a little with this post.

As the founder and manager of the daily operations of All Are Welcome, I juggle a lot of different facets of our organization.  Many of you see me as the “face” of AAW – planning the menus, cooking the meals, coordinating our dedicated crew of volunteers – but there are a number of things I do that keep our mission on track that many don’t see; bookkeeping, shopping for supplies, promotional activities.  One of these tasks is keeping track of how many guests we have for meals each day and reviewing the guest checks for popular items on our menu.

A big part of our mission is to make all of our guests comfortable in their own circumstances by keeping financial information and donations confidential.  It is the very nature of our method to have all guests feel “equal” regardless of their means.  So your notes, stories and information that is shared on our guest checks stays with me.

Through your stories and gifts, I have gotten to know many of you on a more personal level than just guests in the AAW dining room.  Many of you have also gotten to know me (I don’t think there’s a “regular” among you who doesn’t know the tales of my silly rescue puppies!), though I do work to keep a certain level of professionalism, it is hard not to share our lives and our circumstances.  Which means that many of you know that the last few weeks have been a bit stressful and chaotic in my personal life.

Let’s bring this around to the point of this post. At our most recent Saturday meal, I had reached my wall; you know, that point where I just didn’t  think I could accomplish one more thing, take one more step or find one more bit of strength within me.  I was at a point where I thought we should close the restaurant early so I could just go home and hide.

I was reminded that I had made some “closing time” plans and couldn’t stop service early and had to finish according to our regularly posted schedule.  Well, in that last hour of service, a few things we would have missed, had I closed early;  we had one guest who truly benefited from our service that day – and I told her how glad I was she came in.  Another special person came in and provided a much needed set of hands when I was out of energy. Finally, when I reconciled the accounts for the weekend, I found a very generous donation for our service that day – from a party that I know wouldn’t have been in if I had closed early.

Naturally, I won’t mention any names.  This story could be about you, or one of hundreds of others who have been in the right place at the right time over the last weeks, months or years – or even in the days to come.  The message I hope you take away from this – and it is the very heart of what I envisioned when I first imagined All Are Welcome  – we are ONE community.  Today, you may be the one in need or the one who has extra to give.  Tomorrow, those places could change and the one who gave generously before, may need something extra; the one who was struggling 3 months ago, may be able to offer something more.  “Something” is not always money and it’s not always the food…a kind heart to hear your story, new energy to help lighten the load, a gentle word that lifts a spirit…

For all of you…for all you are…for who you were this weekend.  I am overwhelmed by who you are, and I am thankful!

What’s Next

What a FUN Thanksgiving.  Yes, like anything there was the chaos, and commotion and a bit of stress but when all is said and done…it was a very fun and fulfilling day – and the food wasn’t bad either!

Which brings us to the “holiday season”.  Regardless of what one (s) you celebrate or if you don’t celebrate any.  We recognize this is not always “the most wonderful time of the year”.  So instead, we spend this time of year focusing on being neighbors, building our community and working hard to live up to our name – All Are Welcome.

One important event for us at this time of year is the school recess. Students and families who usually get one or two meals per week through the school system may find themselves struggling when there is no lunch program available. It has been our mission during school breaks to do everything we can to reach these folks and let them know that All Are Welcome is available for two meals per week.

Many people are embarrassed to admit they are having trouble putting food on the table. We are encouraging all of our friends, supporters and followers – especially those who have enjoyed a meal with us – to invite friends, neighbors and families who haven’t visited to try All Are Welcome.  It’s as simple as inviting a friend to lunch!

Hope to see you and meet some new friends soon!