Help Wanted

All Are Welcome has always been a bit “passive” when it comes to fundraising…  Gifts from our supporters who attend our weekly meals have provided us the ability to purchase groceries and keep our program running every week for almost 3 years and we are extremely grateful for the opportunity!

We have some safety equipment that we have been waiting to install until we could “raise the funds”, sadly that prospect seems to be taking much longer than we had hoped.  In order to move forward we really need to get this equipment in place and need some extra help making this financially possible!

FEB2015

We’ll be having some extra FUNraising opportunities for the month of February!  We have our logo mugs, reusable grocery/tote bags and Run for Your Lunch AAW logo hats for sale!  You can stop by and pick these products up in person OR you can make a donation through our website: https://secure.piryx.com/donate/VxqprTfS/All-Are-Welcome/ and we will contact you regarding a donation gift!!

We’re hoping a lot more of our Facebook Followers will join us this month to help us meet our $2500 goal by March 17 (Our Third Anniversary)!  More than ever, we need you to share our mission, our menu and our needs!

As an extra “Thank You” for visiting AAW this month, we will be having some door-prize drawings, a few giveaways and some other surprises along the way!  For starters – on February 14, during our Saturday breakfast, our good friends Scott & Tyler Philie will be performing!  We guarantee you’ll enjoy their tunes and our meal!

The February menu has also been posted…please post and share and encourage your contacts and connections to check us out!!

New Year, New Day

I’m not a “New Year’s Resolution” kind of person.  I don’t like winter, and when the new year rolls around, I’d rather be hibernating than jumping in to “fresh new starts”. I’m not ashamed to admit, that this year, I’m quite happy to close the door on 2014 and consciously working to make 2015 less chaotic and more “productive”.

There were a lot of personal, behind the scenes things that made this past year difficult to function and focus on our public mission.

Though I don’t know what the next year will bring (do any of us?).  As I write this post, there is an aura of hope that things will be more settled in my daily life and we can make some giant steps forward at All Are Welcome!

First up, we have our 4th (four years – can you believe it!) Annual RUN FOR YOUR LUNCH 5.5k – a run/walk followed by a Chowder lunch open to the public and runners alike!  Check out our Face Book page & website for more details!

Another big idea is to add a second fundraiser – something we hope will become another annual event – this one in the warmer weather..Save Saturday, June 27th on your calendar and be prepared for something we hope you’ll really like! There’s a lot of working parts to this one, and before we give too much away, we want to make sure there’s a solid plan in place!

On the not-so-often seen side of All Are Welcome, we’re looking to grow our administrative volunteer base – some tech stuff, some PR stuff and some business office stuff – a few of the things needed to make our meal service grow and reach more folks!

We’ve heard from a number of folks that our mission is vital to our community and that we’re doing “a good thing”.  While the words are nice to hear, as founder and manager, I feel there is so much more we could be doing and many more folks we could be reaching.

As our name states, we are a community organization. In 2015 we’re hoping to reach out and rely on the support of a wider group of folks in our community!

Share our Mission: Do you work with elderly folks on  a fixed income? Bring ’em to lunch!  Families who are struggling on a budget?  Hand ’em a menu and let them know where they can get a nice hot breakfast on Saturday morning!  Know a vet who offered their time and service to our country? Let ’em know we’re there!

Build our Mission: How often do you eat out? – Have one or two meals at All Are Welcome! Own a business…know someone who does? Advertise on our placemat or donate for a sponsorship! Just want to help? Give directly – purchase a gift card we can use for supplies, send a check to cover expenses!

Support our Mission: Do you like working with people? Offer a few hours of service waiting on our guests! Do you like working with food? Spend some time preparing food during the week! Good with a computer? Let’s talk about our tech needs!  Do you like sharing ideas and networking? Help us share the word!

All Are Welcome is set to make big things happen and do more good in our community.  There are a lot of good folks in our community who can help us make it grow!  Something small, like posting our monthly menu could go a long way to helping just one person get to our weekly meals!

For those of you who have always been there…THANK YOU!  For those of you who’ve thought about it, and haven’t gotten to us yet … NOW is the time!  And for those who hadn’t “really” thought about it before – maybe one of those “new year’s resolutions” could be to learn more about our mission!

Share our menu! Attend a fundraiser! Come for a meal!  Help us make 2015 a BIG year for AAW!!

Year ‘Round Giving

Happy Winter (YUK). It’s cold, it’s gray, it’s HERE.  My least favorite season for weather.

Which, is only a 1/2 truth.  I celebrate Christmas, so December isn’t so bad…I like cinnamon and peppermint – the “scents” and flavors of the season. 3 out of 4 of my children have birthdays in January, so another month of winter is full of celebrations for our family.  All Are Welcome has our annual RUN FOR YOUR LUNCH fundraiser (more on that soon!) in January too…so other than not wanting to be cold, the first half of winter has a few good points.

But let’s back up to the whole “Holiday Season” thing.  Yes, for me, and others who celebrate Christmas, there’s a lot of things going on, and it’s usually good.  Not so much maybe for those who are struggling financially.  Being bombarded with ads telling you to make others (and even yourself) happy by buying more things can really add to stress, not make you happy.

So, those of us who are doing ok, take anonymous tags off trees and help others have a “christmas” by ensuring there’s something under the tree.  WAIT – what if you don’t celebrate Christmas?  Or what if your kid’s birthday is the week before or the week after the 25th of December…can you ask the Christmas Wish people to throw in an extra gift for that?

Don’t get me wrong, I think helping out others who are struggling is a really GOOD thing.  But why only during “the holidays”?  Why do we have giant food drives ONLY at Thanksgiving? Why do we focus on filling needs and wish lists ONLY at Christmastime? It’s nice to help someone else celebrate the holidays, but what about the folks who have trouble getting by all year long? Like the single parent with 3 kids who outgrew everything they own over the summer and don’t have back to school clothes? Or those that lost their job, unemployment ran out and the family can’t keep the lights turned on in April? And that veteran down the street who’s living on a fixed income but hasn’t had the extra money to buy a new set of sheets for his bed in over a year?

While we’re all going a little crazy shopping and baking and taking care of those less fortunate, it’s a good time to remember that some times the struggles go well beyond the holidays.  All Are Welcome serves two meals per week, all year long.  We need support from our community to keep that going, all year long!

This year, we’ve made some changes to our annual fundraiser (the RUN FOR YOUR LUNCH), hoping that more of our supporters will come from the wider community, not just the “running crowd”. In addition to our 5.5K road race, we’re inviting some vendors and crafters to encourage more folks to join us, even if they don’t race. We serve a homemade chowder & bread lunch with hot drinks and dessert for $15.  We’ll have a few more door prize drawings and giveaways and maybe a few more surprises as well!

Please consider adding All Are Welcome to your “giving” list in 2015! You can sponsor our event, make an online donation, choose All Are Welcome on your AMAZON SMILE shopping site, or just come and dine with us once or twice per month!  Our regular meals are served Thursday from 11AM – 2PM (lunch) and Saturday from 7:30AM – 11:00AM (breakfast) and every donation (large or small) helps ensure we can continue to provide meals for those who struggle all year long.

Thankful

All Are Welcome is having community Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday, November 27, 2014 at 1PM.

We are working with Dial-A-Ride to arrange transportation so folks aren’t restricted by location this year – how cool is that! Reservations for the dinner are encouraged so we have an idea of how much to cook, but we have room for 100!

In addition to the menu, we’ve posted our Thanksgiving Invitation flyer with this month’s menu, please be sure to share, post, invite etc… the more the merrier!!

We will also need volunteers for preparing the meal (all week!!), serving and cleanup. If you or someone you know is available to help, please have them call 508-443-0243!

Many blessings to all!

Past, Present & Future

As September draws to a close, it’s nice to notice that summer threw us a few more days before fall and, eventually, winter come at us with full force. A quick peek back at warm days and lazy afternoons. As people start looking for wood for burning, the price of oil for furnaces and *gasp* forays into Christmas shopping, we also are looking forward, preparing for the seasons to come. Every day, every season, every event seems to come with a mix of past, present and future.

In my personal life, we’ve recently undertaken the chaos and commotion with that project known as KITCHEN RENOVATION. An event that has been years in the making, waiting in the wings for the circumstances to align and finally come to realization! So as I boxed up all my cooking toys, tools and utensils, sorted through the plethora of mugs collected over the years, there was that look back into decades of life lived in our kitchen.

With the supplies and belongings removed, “the boys” began the demolition of what was probably a state of the art, up-to-date showroom of a kitchen when it was first built some 40-odd years ago. Hints of the past revealed themselves again, under layers of paneling and carpet (kitchen carpet? What were they thinking?) and consideration for other lives, other meals and another era as we prepared to move forward.

I have the chance to choose counter top, cabinet styles, fresh paint colors and some pretty impressive new appliances. Looking forward to cooking, entertaining and the general benefit of having everything fresh and new, not to mention in good working order!

As I plan for a new future in our private cooking arena, live with the present chaos of a dismantled kitchen, a piece of the past peeked out and provided inspiration for our October plans at All Are Welcome (aka – I told you that story to tell you this one):

Last year, we spent October trying to encourage more folks to visit All Are Welcome by launching our own independent SCARE AWAY HUNGER program with reminders that there are a lot more people than most would care to admit are who are struggling to keep food on the table – seniors on fixed incomes, families that receive free or reduced meals through the schools but have nothing for weekends or vacations, disabled individuals who’s earning potential is limited by physical or mental illness and just regular folks who find themselves caught between incomes that aren’t increasing to match the higher cost of living.

Once again we invite you all to visit All Are Welcome and help us SCARE AWAY HUNGER – we’ll have some fall & Halloween crafts, our Halloween Tree (based on the book by Ray Bradbury…check it out at the local library!) will be on the wall for folks to decorate with pumpkins, and we’ll have some sort of Halloween giveaway the last week of the month.

This October, we’d like to offer a little THROW BACK THURSDAY into our mix. For those of you who haven’t heard this term, THROW BACK THURSDAY is a social media theme (Face Book, Twitter, Instagram) that has folks pulling out their faded photos, scrapbook clippings and assorted memorabilia as an excuse to post more things, remember family and friends and poke some good-natured fun at themselves!

Among the tidbits found during our demolition, we found a section of the Standard Times featuring the Middleboro School Lunch Menus. Not exactly stellar, healthy choices by 2014 guidelines, I guess, but so reminiscent of the mental picture that comes to mind when someone says “School Lunch”.
1971Menu

Our October menu has been created based on the meals featured in this 1971 clipping – and because our lunch service happens on Thursday – we have given a nod (with some artistic license) to good old School Lunch!

As you peruse our menu based on the PAST, while you read this post in the PRESENT, that you will consider a hope for the FUTURE: No one should ever be hungry. Our mission at All Are Welcome is to ensure that everyone has access to a tasty, nutritious meal. Our ALL VOLUNTEER staff works hard to pull our collective group of personalities, experiences and capabilities together to prepare, serve and present a dining experience worthy of the donations offered by our guests and inviting to all, especially those who benefit from our mission.

Please join us this month to help us SCARE AWAY HUNGER and enjoy some fun, some food and some friendship. Help us to help others – by sharing our mission, posting our menus and most of all by dining at All Are Welcome!!

Taking Stock

I am not a big fan of winter. Most of the season, I spend my time wondering why I live in this part of the country. Then I remember three things: Spring, Summer and Fall. This is one of the few areas that has 4 distinct and separate seasons. Sometimes they run into each other…this August has been more Fall than Summer. Mostly, though, each season comes and goes with it’s own characteristics, individual reasons for loving (or hating) and special events and occasions to mark the passing of the year.

A lot of people make their resolutions and promises to change things or do better for themselves or those around them with the start of a new calendar year – January 1. For me, the unofficial start of the school year has always been more of a new start for me than New Years. The new school year – fresh notebooks, new clothes, new classmates and a new teacher or two always seemed like the perfect time to regroup, make plans and turn over a new leaf as the leaves themselves begin to turn. My birthday falls at this time of year too; the first day of school and the anniversary of my birth coincided more than once as I was growing up.

It’s no real surprise to me that as we start September 2014 that I have looked around and realized there are more than a few things to improve, eliminate or begin, both at home and at All Are Welcome.

We’ve already begun some changes at AAW – one of our biggest goals for the last few months is to round out our volunteer team and include more regular team members, offer some much needed time off for the those that have dedicated more than I could or should have expected, and create more opportunity for those who would like to share in our mission. Our regular guests may have already noticed some of the new faces in the dining room and the kitchen!

One of my greatest loves has been sharing food experiences with others. Cooking with ingredients that may be unfamiliar to some, incorporating a larger variety of tastes, and teaching others the joy of preparing food.

As I prepared September’s menu, the focus was on our inventory – staple ingredients that have been waiting for a chance to shine. As we move deeper into the fall, we will be looking for ways to include the new crop of seasonal bounty that New England has to offer. While the food we present will be changing with the seasons, our volunteers will be encouraged to find their place to shine also! Many of them have offered recipes and menu suggestions, some of our student novices, with no kitchen experience will be invited to develop new skills and more will be expanding their knowledge of the restaurant by changing their roles in and out of the kitchen.

We invite you to come taste and try and experience food, share in our community and be a part of our mission. The need for hunger relief efforts exists. There is a new wave of concern and recognition for the hidden problems of poverty and an under served population who are falling into the cracks of the system. We hope everyone finds something through our mission – the chance to serve, a friendly smile, nourishment for body and mind. Come and share the bounty of our tables and the warmth of our community!

Goals and Missions

Some people have their epiphanies while they run or garden or lie in fresh cut fields – someplace where the mind is free to wander and eventually hits on something enlightening. Mine tend to come in the shower – not that you really need to know that – but I was looking for a good way to intro this post, and sharing where and when my moments of realization happen seemed like a good place to start.

So, this morning’s piece of introspective illumination is that, to paraphrase C3-PO, I am NOT a good story teller. I can write – I’ve been told some of my business writing is really good. When I sit down to write letters or this blog, or even a few bits for a Face Book post, what I’m thinking and what I want to say get all tangled up in the emotions. I start to ramble and have trouble making sense of the ideas that seemed really powerful and witty in my head.

I have friends that write, I read their stuff and wish I could emulate their process so that I had words that could move mountains. Need a letter of recommendation, business proposal, instruction manual? I’m all over that – but for those of you who read this blog, even just as a means to get to the monthly menu, allow me to apologize for my ramblings and thank you for tolerating them!

Why, then, have I written 3 paragraphs explaining why I feel I can’t write? Because I have something VERY important to note this month, and I’m hoping if you understand HOW I write, you’ll be able to read this post with more understanding.

All Are Welcome is, first and foremost a hunger relief mission. It is our goal to ensure that EVERYONE has access to a healthy, filling and tasty meal. Whether they need that meal once in a while to fill a gap between paychecks or if there just doesn’t ever seem to be enough money for food, or just to get some variety from the staples and supplies provided by traditional assistance programs.

Beyond hunger relief, there are so many more things we hope to offer – a sense of community, a feeling of belonging, real world and job experience for some of our student volunteers, a chance to learn a few kitchen skills or tips. The list in my mind is endless.

But HUNGER RELIEF is first, how we do that, how I envision us doing that and what others see us doing are all part of the package.

Hunger in America. It’s been around for a long time – and it’s not going away. Food pantries are overwhelmed, SNAP benefits were given a supplemental increase – and then summarily decreased late last year. The cost of food BASICS – milk, bread, fruits and veggies, meat – keep going up. Seniors who want to retire have to look at serious cuts in budgets between private, job provided insurance and the out of pocket expenses for Medicare. Grandparents who are now raising their grandkids have limited resources and incomes. Families who barely make ends meet already are finding it harder and harder. Circumstances have changed the “face of hunger”. What is this Face of Hunger we hear about? These days…that face is you and me. Unless you’re sitting on a multi-million dollar trust fund, budget cuts, overseas relocation, corporate outsourcing all mean that anyone could be out of work, depleting meager savings accounts and struggling to put a meal on the table at any time.

Something as distant as the issues in corporate Market Basket has a major impact on folks who never expected to face hunger (food insecurity) issues. Take a few minutes to read Face Book postings, Twitter feeds, blogs, and news articles. The near shut down of this major grocery chain, which featured good pricing and enabled food dollars to go further has had a serious impact on local shoppers. Forced to shop at higher priced chains, grocery budgets don’t go as far, causing hard decisions for those who have been just getting by.

At All Are Welcome, folks who are struggling can come in and get fed and know for one night at least, they don’t have to be hungry. Because we can’t feed every hungry person three meals a day, seven days a week, and we don’t have a direct impact on breaking the cycle of hunger, our program is considered emergency relief. Emergency relief is good…it’s certainly better than NO relief. And because we’re there, doing what we do twice per week, we are consistent relief; those who need nourishment know when and where to find us!

So far in 2014 we have served an average of 307 meals PER MONTH. For a restaurant that’s open only 2 days per week, that’s a lot of meals! We know that all of those meals are not folks in need – we have our fabulous supporters who come and eat at our restaurant to keep support (and funding) for our mission going strong.

So, after this lengthy post, there must be a point, right? The point is we need your help. We need volunteers to help keep the program running…we need more folks to come and eat and donate to keep providing the portion of those 307 meals to those who need them…and we need to reach a more members our community who don’t know about our program, who are embarrassed to join us at All Are Welcome and who don’t understand how we operate, making them hesitant to visit us!

We are researching grant funding, we’re looking into passive funding and looking into reaching out for more direct donation opportunities. Watch for more on these soon, to help us grow. In the meantime, when you see an article on hunger, or grocery price increases, or budget cuts affecting any public assistance program, please remember that these are the issues that create a need for All Are Welcome and that your neighbors, grandparents, sisters, brothers, and even yourselves may be only one step away from being the Face of Hunger. When you see the posts, read the news, receive the Tweets, consider All Are Welcome and how we are working to help – and consider how you could help us build community…one meal at a time.