Semi-Retired

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…

note

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.

Marching On…

It’s been a little while since anything new has been posted.  For those who have been at All Are Welcome in the past few weeks, you may have noticed that I have been suffering from a back/neck injury that’s really slowed me down.  That’s the down side…the upside is that things keep moving forward and spring is just around the corner, so sunshine, warmer weather and fresh air will definitely help lighten the mood!

With all that said, today is the first day of March and there are a few things are happening this month – we want to be sure to have your participation, support and assistance as often as possible!

FOURTH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION! First and foremost, 2016 marks our fourth anniversary!! Pretty amazing stuff for a small restaurant that runs with an all volunteer staff and makes our money through the generosity of others! Note your calendars that on SATURDAY, MARCH 12 from 7:30AM – 11AM (our regular breakfast service), we will be celebrating our anniversary! All of our friends, guests, supporters and volunteers who join us for breakfast that day will share in the celebration  with menu specials, giveaways and door prizes!

DUDS FOR SUDS!  All month long, starting today, March 1st through Thursday, March 31st, we will be raising funds specifically for our Dishwasher Fund.  Our automatic dishwasher gasped its last in October 2015.  We have been scrimping and saving to purchase a replacement, but alas, a high quality machine comparable to what we had will cost thousands of dollars.  We are reaching out to our supporters to help us raise the dollars quicker!  For everyone who donates $7 through our website or at our restaurant, you will receive this fabulous embroidered event T-shirt from our summer event.

It is a navy blue T with red, white & blue embroidery.  When you donate, notice the “GIFT RECIPIENT” block…simply include your size choice (S, M, L, XL, XXL) in the note box and we’ll ship your T to the address in your information!  Yes! You can get more than one shirt…for $14/2, $21/3, etc.  – Just be sure to indicate all the sizes you need with your donations.  This offer will be good for donations received as long as T-shirt supplies last!

MENU SPECIALS!  My injury has limited my ability to lift and cook some items that we’d been saving for special occasions.  Thankfully, our superb team of volunteers have really stepped up and made my job just a little easier during this time.  As we move out of winter “comfort food” season and into the lighter fare of salads and fruits so abundant in the warmer weather, we will be featuring some one-time specials and unique options during March.  Be sure to bring friends and check out our Facebook page weekly for the upcoming features!

BEANS N BREWS FAMILY FUN DAY!  We held this summer fundraising event for the first time last June and just received confirmation that we are good to go again in 2016.  SAVE THE DATE: Saturday, June 4, 2016 from 11AM – 5PM at the KOA Campground, Middleboro MA.  More details will follow, but we’ll be featuring a vendor shopping area, kid’s carnival games, iced coffee bar, chili cook off and of course, our home brew tasting/competition.  Our brewers are already making plans, volunteers are being recruited and menu items are in the works – if you weren’t there last year, you won’t want to miss out again!

Thank you all for bringing us around to another wonderful celebration. We are looking forward to seeing you on March 12th for the anniversary party!!

The dishwasher won’t run, but hopefully YOU will

A lot of our (my) posts start with one of two things – the weather or some description of why I am sometimes (more often than not) sporadic when  I write. Both have a lot to do with the way All Are Welcome is running. The weather certainly affects what’s going on in the kitchen, but moods and energy levels and attitude as well.  As for the postings, well…read on.

I realized it’s been a while since I’ve written.  We came back from a summer break and I haven’t posted since.  There are folks I know who write every day – blog posts, journalists, insightful Facebook posts, but I’m not one of those.  Sometimes it takes a while for my brain to pull a post together that I think might be worthy of reading.  So, here’s a little end of year update for you with some …wait for it…food for thought!

Last week, I wore flip flops outside…I saw drivers with their convertible tops down…in DECEMBER!  For one who’s not fond of cold, snow or winter, as we approach the time of year that usually makes me ask “why do I live in New England” I’ll take these above average temps and spring-time weather!

We have been doing a few new things at All Are Welcome since our last post.  With a little help and a little advice, we have done some updates to our decor, created a printed menu and have enlisted the help of a volunteer to help build our volunteer staff!

On a sadder note, the dishwasher in our kitchen has washed its last.  Hobart, the workhorse of restaurant appliances, was over 20 years old, probably closer to 30 and served us and our hosts at the Church of Our Saviour well.  The machine is so old, they no longer manufacture parts or offer service for our model.  So, for the first time in a long time, we’re going to be doing some active fundraising to raise AAW’s share of the cost of replacing the machine.  Commercial, hi-temp dishwashers are not a low budget item and we’re going to need some help with this!!

In the meantime, of course, we’ll be keeping on with our regular meals, our FIFTH annual Run for Your Lunch and a few other special things to keep moving forward and looking for our next big adventure!

As a point of interest, this month, the Sunday TODAY show filmed a piece on one of the pay-as-you-can cafe’s in another part of the country.  If you’ve ever wondered what All Are Welcome is, or to understand what makes us different from traditional restaurants or even how we’re “not a soup kitchen”, please take a moment to view the video clip from that show (aired December 6, 2015) HERE. All of the Community Cafes across the nation work with slightly different models; one important difference from the featured cafe is that All Are Welcome has NO paid employees – our staff is all volunteer!

If you are able to offer some help towards our new dishwasher, or just keeping us running you can make donations online (see our donation link above under “partner”), mail them to us at All Are Welcome, PO Box 1244, Middleboro, MA 02346 or stop in to visit us  at 60 Union Street, Middleboro (inside the Church of Our Saviour parish hall).

Some things to note and dates to remember: Please check our Facebook page regularly.  News, updates and changes are posted there fairly regularaly!  Thursday, December 24 (Christmas Eve) will be a special lunch service day with a Lasagna lunch (no regular menu) and we will be closing at 1PM, Saturday, December 26 we WILL be serving our regular breakfast menu.  Thursday, December 31 will be regular lunch, but again closing at 1PM, Saturday, January 2, 2016 will be regular breakfast and most importantly…

SUNDAY, JANUARY 17, 2016 is our FIFTH ANNUAL RUN FOR YOUR LUNCH 5.5k Run/Walk and Chowder lunch!  Race Registration is open online with RaceWire or you can print and mail a registration form from here!  Please bring friends and guests to join us for the post-race party and chowder lunch ($10 for non-runners!)— Help us make the 5th running of our yearly race the BIGGEST ONE EVER!  (plus bring in that new dishwasher!)

Thanks again for your time and continued support!

 

 

What I did this Summer

Remember the days when the first assignment in school was an essay titled “What I did on my summer vacation”?  When that time came, I always struggled.  My family didn’t take big trips, we had a pool in our yard, and even though we spent time at our grandparents’ homes, it wasn’t essay worthy material.

My husband had a very similar upbringing, though instead of visiting grandparents, his family had a summer home on Cape Cod.  In short, we spent a lot of time during the summer doing a whole heap of creative nothing.  As we raised our family, we continued the tradition of stay at home, leisurely summers.  Which means, in short, I never had any huge adventures to write about.  But now, after 40+ years, I have had a summer chock full of stuff to write about!

For those who follow the happenings at All Are Welcome pretty regularly, you’ll know that after 3 years of diligent fundraising, we have finally been able to install a full range hood with fire suppression system.  While it hasn’t been a simple process, it certainly has been a learning experience.  But with the last of the loose ends scheduled to be completed soon, with the new system, we’ll be able to feature a few more regular items on our menu.

While the safety equipment was being installed at the restaurant, there were some very needed home improvement projects going on in my “other life”.  For anyone who’s ever taken on a renovation project of any kind (even just painting a room can be chaotic) you’ll understand the commotion going on at home – making me twice as glad we did take the whole month of August off to finish these things!

But the best part of my summer was a long awaited trip to Ireland!  This was my first trip out of the country (well, I did go to Canada once when I was a kid) and our first real “go away” vacation in about 16 years!

I have always thought of myself as a very simple person, with very basic needs.  I don’t want to go skydiving, I don’t need to hike the full length of the Appalachian trail, and I’m not sure my life would be all that incomplete even if I never go to Disney (though that new Millennium Falcon thing sounds pretty cool!). So, no, I don’t have a bucket list of wild and not so wild things I wish to accomplish – but after taking this trip, my advice to others is if you find something you really want to do or try, do it before the time slips away!

As I mentioned above, the new range system will allow us to add a few items to the menu on a more regular basis.  So the last big project this summer has been to taste, test and explore new options for All Are Welcome that we hope will encourage more folks to try us, and by doing so, help us increase the number of folks we help each week and expand our mission.

Please join us on THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 3 from 11A-2P for an end-of vacation/summer cookout!  We’ll be setting up a real charcoal grill, cooking outside for the first time, and serving up some fresh salads, corn on the cob, watermelon, burgers, dogs and ice cream sandwiches for dessert!

Over the next few weeks as summer comes to an end and the school / fall routines get back in full swing, we hope more folks will follow our messages, share the word about our mission and join us in building our mission!

Stay tuned for the full September menu, our next blog posting “All Are Welcome: Fact or Myth” and more details on our changes in service!

Summer

It’s hard to believe it’s July already.  June was a month of craziness and fun.  We held our first BEANS N BREWS Family Fun Day fundraiser.  It was a good day…but one thing we were lacking was VOLUNTEERS!  A few key players had family or personal emergencies which left us short, and we didn’t get quite enough to sign up in the first place, But overall, it seems as though this is a definite WIN and we’re already looking at what to do and how to improve for next year!

I mention the volunteer situation, because as an all volunteer organization, and as a volunteer for many groups over the years, it’s a situation that is a sticking point for us and other groups. People and Time are two very rare commodities these days.  Work schedules, family commitments, and certainly the number of organizations in need of assistance put a strain on the two most needed resources.

For the past few years at AAW, we have had groups of students filling our volunteer slots.  These kids and their staff really have been making a difference for us, and we hope they’re getting something back from us as well.  But like most student programs, they are all “OFF” for the summer months and we find ourselves short handed for our regular schedule.  During the times the kids are “absent” we have tried to lighten our menu, lighten our work load and make it a more relaxed time for the remaining staff.  It hasn’t always been a successful ideal – summers seem to fly by and there’s no “easy living” in our mission.

There is that old saying that no one ever leaves this life wishing they had spent more time at work, or less time with our families.  No one’s fancy car or huge house leaves the planet with us, and we certainly can’t empty our bank account for our final destination.  Having suffered the loss of mother, father, father-in-law and many friends who have also lost parents over the last 18 months, how we spend our time in life is very much in focus these days.

I read so much about what we are missing in life – the simpler days of drinking from the hose, playing outside ’til dark, and just being with one another.  At the same time, I see the posts for bigger and better kids’ birthday parties, weddings that cost more than my house, or baby/bridal showers that are more elaborate than Princess Charlotte’s christening.  I, for one, miss a simpler life.  Sure, I have my face in my phone as much as anyone – but for me, it’s a communication tool…I got to wish my mom’s cousin a Happy Birthday – without my mom around, I’m not even sure I’d know when it was (i’d forget my own birthday if someone wasn’t around to remind me), so that was great. I use Face Book to find out what’s going on in town and after many years of being a receptionist/administrative assistant, I admit I’m not fond of talking on the phone and enjoy the modern convenience of sending a text or email to let folks know I’m thinking of them.  But it’s still just a means to an end…I’d rather have coffee with you in person!

So as I once again ramble on with the back story leading up to THE POINT, I have a two-sided message for you to contemplate as we enjoy the beauty of a New England Summer.

This year, I mean it – I have,for the last few months, heard from my family, “You never have time anymore”.  And, sadly, they’re right.  I have been so busy with work and projects and events outside of my home, that there has been very little living done in my life.  So, this summer, All Are Welcome will be simpler. My family will be priority and as much as I love those we serve, I cannot do good for you all, without taking some time to be good to me.  We will again be CLOSED for some family vacation time in early August, for a long overdue vacation.  Though I have twinges of guilt when we cannot serve those in need, my immediate family is very much in need of my presence as well.  The August menu will feature the closing dates, which will be posted soon.

My second hope, as you read this is that you will look at your time and your schedule and consider donating some of that to All Are Welcome in the near future.  We are always overwhelmed with the number of volunteers who offer time for our Thanksgiving meal.  While we are always extremely grateful for this outpouring of community involvement, our weekly mission is the much larger part of what we do to serve our community.  Teens (14+), retirees, mom’s, with any level of experience are all encouraged to be a part of what we do!  And since it’s a “casual” summer, we can work to fit your schedule!  We have several “parent/child” teams that come together, so consider spending time with your youth working together to build our community!  Our current schedule has Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday opportunities, with the greatest need being Thursdays!  Please contact us at 774-419­-39­82 or by email at manager@allarewelcome.us

Thank you for your time and support and I hope to meet more of you soon!

1241 GRAINS OF RICE

Many of you know me as the “face” of All Are Welcome – Middleboro’s donate-as-able cafe.  I suppose to some degree, that’s true.  The reality is that we have a team of 20 (or so) extremely hard-working, dedicated volunteers who make things happen.  A number of them were friends when we started and a number have become friends along the way.  So, as I handle the administrative stuff, figure out how to make things better and try to keep things rolling along, I want to make sure all those folks who have my back and ensure that All Are Welcome is running know how very much I appreciate all their time and effort.  THANK YOU!!!

I have a friend who starts most days with some pithy commentary on his Facebook page.  A snippet of inspiration, a place to pause and ponder.  The other day he actually told me that I have “a great insight into things and a way of explaining it really well.”  I thought this was ironic, coming from him, considering that his words have been pushing me along for the last few months.  Many who know me know that I tend to keep inside myself, probably too much.  I always feel that I don’t express myself well, especially when emotional situations are involved, and then I erupt.  To use a cooking analogy, like a pot of rice, simmering, covered on the stove.  First there’s a little steam pushing out, then a spatter or two bursts out and finally a fribbling mess all over the stove.

Bear with me while I ramble a little – the last 15 months or so have been pretty rough in my life.  Nothing much on the outside, and I won’t bore you with the details.  But there have been some major life events that have been simmering…and spattering…and last week, on a day at home, where no one saw, the MESS.

When you (more or less) work for yourself, it’s not always easy to take that step back and breathe when there’s stuff to sort out.  But like any mess, you have to start the cleanup process.  And so, it begins.  How does all this relate to a blog about and for All Are Welcome?  Because through the last 15 months when there were many things simmering, All Are Welcome survived.  It hasn’t been perfect but we’re still serving, still getting interest and still seeing new faces!  When there’s a storm swirling all around and something as unique to manage as our little mission comes out on the other side, you know you’ve got a keeper.

This spring / summer, we’ve got some plans, some changes and some in-roads to make on the road to our next major accomplishment.  As you read on, you will see the outline of what’s coming…and in the next few days, there will be more details, updates and interaction.  For those of you who have been along for the ride, thank you again, and we hope you’ll be with us for the next steps in our journey.  For those of you who are just learning about us, we invite you to join us as we move forward into new things!

While our mission is to relieve hunger in our area, community outreach and involvement is always our underlying force.  When people have to choose between food or heat, when those responsible for young people are struggling to put a meal on the table, when those who served our country go without it’s a community problem and affects us all.

Our local food pantries are facing an overwhelming demand.  St. Vincent dePaul, here in Middleboro, serves folks in Middleboro, Lakeville, Carver – and has over 400 registered clients.  That’s a lot of folks who aren’t “making it”.

All Are Welcome has been serving an average of 150 meals per week – we can do more, we WANT to do more.  Summer is coming and kids who get 1 or 2 meals through the schools are going to be home, straining families who rely on those meals to keep those kids fed!  We just survived an epic winter and the homeless shelters and warming centers were bursting at the seams to keep folks safe. The only way AAW can do more for those around us is to grow!

Our next goal is to relocate our mission into a free-standing building.  There. I said it out loud, for everyone to see, read, hear and share. We need our own space!

So here’s how YOU can help move us towards that goal:

SATURDAY, JUNE 20 is a new (hopefully annual!) fundraising event for AAW…the BEANS ‘N’ BREWS Family Fun Day!  We have planned a day for everyone to enjoy – a home brew competition, a chili cook-off, the KIDWAY (carnival games, snacks and prizes), a vendor mall with your favorite Home Party consultants (Tupperware, Thirty-One, Trades of Hope and more), 4 local bands to keep you entertained, and a cook-out hamburger/hotdog lunch!  We’ll be at the KOA campground, Route 44 in Middleboro from 11AM – 6PM with fun for all!  You can find out more details on our BEANS ‘N’ BREWS webpage (including entry forms for chili chefs).

AMAZON SMILE…did you know that Amazon has a charity option?  When you shop through Amazon Smile you can purchase all your goodies like always, but they’ll donate a portion of your purchase back to All Are Welcome!  Hey, you’re already shopping there, why not help us out!  Set your preferences here: Amazon Smile and select All Are Welcome to support us when you shop!

DIRECT DONATIONS: Through our secure webpage you can donate directly to AAW!  We are a registered 501c3 organization so your gifts are tax-deductible!

DINE WITH US!  All Are Welcome is a unique, but full service restaurant (not a soup kitchen or “only” for those in need!).  Join us for a community style meal… For lunch, start with soup or a salad, enjoy a sandwich or the special of the day, side dishes, and dessert! At breakfast we have local eggs (when the chickens cooperate), bacon, sausage, pancakes all the time and there’s always the daily special…fancy French Toasts, omelets, specialty pancakes. We proudly serve Equal Exchange fairly traded coffees & teas, helping others around the globe while we help our own community!

Other things that our friends & guests should know:

  • The Church of Our Saviour will be holding their annual yard sale on Saturday, June 6. We WILL be open for breakfast, so you can enjoy our meal and shop to help our sponsors!
  • We’ve been working to save and upgrade our shared space with a new range hood and fire suppression system. AAW is happy to report that this equipment will be installed at the end of June. The down side is that because this is a major renovation, the restaurant will be closed from June 21 – July 4, reopening for our regular lunch service on Thursday, July 9 at 11AM.
  • A number of our student volunteers will be unavailable for the summer months. We will be inviting volunteers to fill the gaps, please email if you’re interested…for those who’ve previously shown an interest, we’ll be contact you soon!

As I have rambled on for 2  pages now, I am going to close out this missive with THANKS to all our continuing supporters, WELCOME to our new followers,  and HOPE for all who need our mission!

I have (finally) posted the MAY 2015 menu, and June is not far behind!!  Looking forward to seeing you soon!

Three Years and Counting

Here comes MARCH…supposed to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb… I think this winter (or at least the last month of it) has been a whole pride of lions!!  I just noticed a lot of our posts start with the weather! I think that’s because what’s going on outside greatly affects what is planned and cooked inside!!

Anyway, this month, no great commentary, no huge thoughts…just one big HOORAY!  March 17, 2015 marks our 3rd anniversary!  They say that any restaurant that survives it’s first year is doing pretty good…well, on almost all donations only for our financial support, we’ve made it 3 times longer than that!!

We’d like to invite our regular guests, our past and present volunteers, our friends and families and pretty much everyone else reading this post to come celebrate that week with us!!!

On Saturday, March 14 we will hold our traditional anniversary breakfast with a “Touch of the Irish” in honor of our opening on St. Patrick’s Day, 2012.  Homemade corned beef hash, oven baked fries with curry sauce, Irish Soda bread and…PIE!  PIE???  What does that have to do with it??  I’ll explain (sort of):

It just so happens that our anniversary celebration will be held on a once in a lifetime date...3.14.15… for those with math knowledge…this is also known as PI…a Greek letter assigned to the mathematical ratio of a circle’s circumference to it’s radius…

WHAT?  Well, it doesn’t really matter if you just got lost…here’s your take away.  Greek letter PI, has to do with circles, a fixed number that’s 3.1415 (and keeps going) which sounds like PIE, which are usually round, and the date of our anniversary celebration is 3.14.15… and we decided we couldn’t just ignore this point in history, especially at our anniversary party!

So be sure to come celebrate with us – ANNIVERSARY BREAKFAST – SATURDAY, MARCH 14, 2015 from 7:30AM – 11AM.  We’re trying to get a real record breaker day…150 or more!  So be patient, we’ll have live music, giveaways, good food and lots of fun and friends to keep you entertained if we pack the house!  The celebration continues with an ANNIVERSARY LUNCH – THURSDAY, MARCH 19, 2015 from 11AM – 2PM.  More goodies to giveaway, more good food, and good friends and PIE…we have to have PIE even though the moment in history will be over!

So, post a flyer, email your friends, bring your neighbors and families and help us make a BIG DEAL of our 3RD ANNIVERSARY!!!

CELEBRATING THREE (Flyer to Print & Share)

MAR15menu (March Menus)