It’s been nearly five years since we opened our doors. Five years, 125,000 meals to people who are food insecure, and of course – countless hugs. Can you believe all that? I’m not sure I can!
For all who were able to make it last Sunday night, we celebrated those 5 years. We celebrated each of you who’ve welcomed us on 300 W. Hargett St. And we celebrated our amazing staff, our incredible volunteers, our generous donors, and our daily diners. Sunday night – just like every night! – I felt how much of an honor it is to be a part of this community with you.
Don’t get me wrong, though: this work is hard. Some days it’s really hard. We have to remind each other to take care of ourselves, to find ways to rest, to breathe. It’s something I need to be reminded of on the regular, and I want to share a little about the benefits that come with good rest.
And as many of you know, I recently did a little hiking. Well… a lot of hiking. I had the wonderful fortune of hiking the El Camino de Santiago – a 500 mile pilgrimage across Spain. The journey took 4 weeks of hiking, at around 12-20 miles a day. Some of you may be thinking, “How is hiking that much connected to rest?!” But hear me out…
Even with all of my preparation, I couldn’t predict everything. One day I got sick. Really sick. I was down for days, so frustrated about being knocked off course and the disruption to my carefully-made plans. As I lay in my hostel bed, equal parts annoyed and dehydrated, I realized this was a perfect reflection of the past two years at Table. And I was overcome with gratitude.
The last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic knocked A Place at the Table off course; It disrupted every last one of our carefully-made plans. In Spain, a large bottle of Pepto, extra water, a solo room, and some really great people helped me get back on the trail and keep going. At Table, what got us back on track…well, of course, that was YOU.
We got back back up, adjusted the plan, and got back on the trail. And… we did it together. This community did it together. And you continue doing it, every single day.
Sunday night, you all helped us raise over 13,000 meals for our friends needing a meal in the cafe. 13,000 waffles, 13,000 grits, 13,000 coffees. And more importantly 13,000 hugs we are now able to give every single day.
Thank you. Thank you for the past 5 years and thank you for the next 5, too. My commitment to you is that we will continue to be a welcoming place where everyone, regardless of means, dines with dignity.
Friends, I want to end with a challenge: go find moments to rest. And know that just as you had us, we have you. You can always rest with us. We will see you at the Table soon.