Lisa Janssen, Gathering Place Program Administrator
April 4th marks one year of weekend meal service at Community Action’s Gathering Place. Need was evident prior to the pandemic, and the addition has proven to be beneficial. Last year we served the most meals on record, with a total near 35,000. We’ve heard from guests who greatly appreciate the weekend meal service, especially on Sundays, when many find that dining options and transportation are limited.
We’ve had to modify our meal assembly process, as well as dedicate more time to that part of the service. It’s possible for us, but we appreciate how much support volunteers are able to provide to ease the process. What’s more exciting is that we’re getting closer to the date when volunteers will return! When we’re able to have volunteer assistance again, we’ll be able to spend more time preparing a greater variety of hot, nutritious meals for our guests. We’re most motivated and inspired by our guests and the gratitude they share with us each night.
From my view at Community Action’s Gathering Place, I’m inspired by all the creative ways we’re finding to continue supporting each other and delivering services. Our guests at the Gathering Place have adapted quite well over the past year. Guests continue to socialize outside and often show up early to see friends before each meal. Several guests have thanked us specifically for continuing and expanding meal services. Some guests have proudly informed us that they have received their vaccines, and some are curious to learn more from those who have. Overall, guests seem to be doing well. Many have shared that they miss sitting down inside, drinking the coffee, and seeing all of our wonderful volunteers. We miss that, too!