Sorry it’s been a while since my last blog post. Life’s been busy between 12 Baskets, community life, attempts at self-care and prepping for my interview with Louisville Seminary. It’ll be the first weekend of March and I’ll take all the prayers and positive energy that I can get! I just had a really great day at work today and I wanted to share it with you all.
So it started as a pretty average day at 12 Baskets. I arrive around 9 AM, turn on the oven, put some food in the oven and start to organize the food that we received over the weekend. Some of our guests start to make the coffee, our Companions (or volunteers) for the day start to come in around 10:30 and we have a nearly full house by the time we start to serve at 11:30. Everyday before we start serving I say a few words of Welcome and Thanks. I explain what 12 Baskets is, how food will be served and where the food comes from. I also explain that we live in a world that tells us that there is not enough to go around and that at 12 Baskets, we say that is not true. We have an abundance of food, we have an abundance of people, we have an abundance of grace and we have an abundance of love. I go onto say that we are a Christian organization but we don’t require anyone else to be and that we are all on our own journeys and they are all important and with that in mind I ask if anyone would like to say a few words of thanks for the abundance this morning because everyone’s voice matters. Usually at this point someone says a little prayer or a few words of thanks and peace. But today, one of our newer guests just said Thank You and it echoed throughout the room from our guests to our Companions, myself included. In that moment, I felt how strong our community really is.
We encourage our Companions to sit down and eat with our guests everyday partly because we have so much food that it needs to, as my supervisor Shannon would say, “get gone” and partly because we know the best way to get to know someone is by sitting down and breaking bread with them. Today I sat down with one of our guests who has been with us since the beginning who I’ve always struggled to connect with. I’m going to call this guest Frank. Today I sat down with Frank and he started telling me about his current situation. He lives in a tent that he calls home out in the woods around Asheville. He’s been living out there since April. Frank has a ton of experience working as a plumber, an engineer and a chiropractor but he always suffered from massive depression. Every year or so he would be sucked into the hole of depression where he boarded himself up in his house for months at a time and he just couldn’t pull himself out of it. Ever since he started living in a tent, he gave up his worldly possessions, started biking more, started to become more of a social being, starting to get more in tune with nature and since then, he hasn’t clipped back in to depression. He recently got offered to stay in the house of an older woman that he’s friends with. He helps her out around the house and with her health thanks to all of his skills. Now this woman’s memory is starting to go so she offered him a place to stay so he can help her out even more and so he can have place to stay in doors. Frank is really struggling with this decision. If he moves in with this woman, he’d be inside and living in a very nice part of town. But if he moves inside, he is all too aware that his depression could sneak it’s way back into his life. This story shows me a few things. One is the lesson I keep on learning: everyone has a different story and different reasons for where they are in life, especially if you are living on the streets or in a tent or in a car. The other is that mental illness and care for mental illness is so different for each and every person! I’m so happy to have connected with Frank today and to have heard some of his story. I’ve had so many great lunch dates like this one over the past four months and I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to help create a space where conversations like this one can happen.
The second conversation was with a guest who I’m going to call Tom. I’ve been getting to know Tom over the past couple weeks and whenever I sit down and talk to him he speaks very softly so I have to do a lot of leaning forward and lip reading. It seems to be a part of his life that he has come to accept and even jokes about. Today I ran into Tom on his way out of the Cafe and we were just catching up. I noticed that I could hear him a lot better today. He was surprised to hear this and he reflected back to me that ever since he’s been coming to 12 Baskets, he’s been talking to other people instead of just himself. Tom has been engaging in conversations with people who care about what he has to say and want to hear him say it. Just by coming to 12 Baskets and getting a delicious warm meal, Tom has become apart of the 12 Baskets community and he is becoming a socially active person again. This is a HUGE part of life that we privileged people take advantage of. Human contact. Talking to people. Living in poverty can be such a dehumanizing experience and at 12 Baskets we just want to restore humanity back to people’s lives.
Four months ago, I wouldn’t have been able to guess that we would have created a space that stories like these can come out of. I’m proud of our Companions for helping to create a space where things like this can happen and I appreciate every single guest that walks through our doors.
Thank you all for your support and please continue to keep everyone at 12 Baskets in your prayers.