I don’t recall a time when I was forced to sit on the sidelines and watch things happen. I’ve always thought of myself as a “roll up my sleeves and get the job done” kind of person. Admitting to myself that I am not physically able to do what I love doing has been hard.
I have spent 5 years building the mission of All Are Welcome…I have met some great people, made a bunch of new friends and saw a dream become reality. Over the last few weeks I have come to realize this has not been a small feat, but the credit is not mine. I am often humbled by those who applaud the efforts and success of All Are Welcome, as they tell me what a wonderful thing “I’ve ” done. I didn’t really do anything except connect the dots. Sometimes the dots weren’t always clear, but in 5 years, this mission has always met our needs and I had very little to do with that.
On those days, over the past years when I didn’t think I could draw one more line to connect another dot, the volunteers at All Are Welcome have always stepped up, stepped in and pulled it together. Some days, just a rag-tag bunch flying by the seat of our pants making sure “IT” happened. One day a very wise and smart person said to me, “if you have fed one person, you’ve done your job”. By that standard, we have succeeded.
Now, as I am forced to step aside from the daily, physical demands of running the hands-on cooking and serving of the meals (I never thought I’d run it forever, I just wasn’t expecting the change to come this soon or this abruptly), the change in perspective allows me to focus on a much broader image of All Are Welcome in the community.
This weekend, as I plowed through the neglected to-do list in front of me, I discovered this on the back of a guest check. Normally, the back of our guest checks are filled with a summary of our business model and our mission. Another “sign” of the right things at the right time in the right place…
I’ve blacked out her name…at AAW we try to level the playing field and respect the privacy and circumstances of our guests. I’ve met her, I’ve heard part of her story. I know she’s lived through some stuff in her young life. Yet she says this about us, our small mission that tries to feed those who go without and somehow, so much more.
Food for the body, nurturing the spirit, building a community…like the “old days” when we knew our neighbors. Sitting beside someone who’s life hasn’t always been good and sharing a smile. Being together in a place where no one cares where you came from, or how much you have.
We won’t ever be a 5-star establishment. We won’t have the trendiest menu. We probably won’t have a paid staff of food service professionals. We will always have a smile. We will always do our best. We will always make a place at our table, in our kitchen and on our team for those who wish to be among friends. As I step into the background and work on the business side of our mission, I hope someday, maybe we’ll have a few of our visions realized – a building of our own, a garden to grow. For now, I give you our fantastic volunteers, our loyal and supportive guests, and a place for everyone to belong.
Building community, one meal at a time.