September 28, 2017
While many of us were busy trying to figure out the path of Hurricane Irma, my colleague, Jamie DeMent organized a group from the CRDA to volunteer during our lunch hour at ONE80 Place. If you’re not familiar, ONE80’s mission is to turn around the lives of homeless individuals. They work tirelessly to end and prevent homelessness one person and one family at a time.
Taking time to serve lunch to those in need was a great opportunity to pause from the stress of a busy work week, and connect with each other. Claire, Jacki, Jenna, Jamie, Jaime, and me were greeted by the friendly faces of the staff prepping for a hot meal. We tied on our aprons and got busy rolling silverware and filling drinks.
As it got closer to serving time we each took our places behind the counter serving a hot entrée, vegetable, bread, salad, and dessert. We had no idea what to expect but when the Chef rolled the window up we were greeted by a long line of hungry faces.
It was an overwhelming mix of emotions, each person seemed relieved to connect with a smile, eye contact, and conversation about the menu. Especially the desserts! It was amazing how the anxieties of the workday deadlines, meeting prep, and project activities quickly dispersed to be replaced with appreciation for the comforts we too often take for granted.
I don’t know how many people we served that day but the meal count was close to 200. And as we filled the trays with generous donations from kitchens and grocery stores throughout the community, I was thankful for the opportunity to serve.
Individuals, families, people of all ages, regardless of socioeconomic status – we’re all seeking the comfort of a hot meal and fellowship around the table. I’m grateful for the opportunity to connect with my colleagues on a different level and the reminder that community means taking care of each other. Our success is not just judged on winning projects, attracting talent, announcing jobs and capital investment, it’s about what we value, prosperity and economic opportunity for everyone in our region.