We’re probably in trouble if I’m quoting lyrics from the 1980’s, but it sure fit today. Please read on to get some potentially life-changing information. It’s a longer post, but some good photos to help move it along. Here’s the first one!
I have worked with a group that provides “Good Neighbor Meals” every second and last Saturday of the month for the last five years or so. We work out of the basement fellowship hall of a church in Saint Paul, right near the capitol. I started out washing the big pans, graduated to whatever was needed, moved to cooking, and now, twice a year my wife and I sponsor a meal. We buy all the food, do the cooking and con our friends into serving and doing the cleanup work. This video was taken last Saturday – it amazes me every time I watch it. The video was shot by our friend Michael Stoebner.
It’s -13 outside this morning. I feel a great sense of concern for many of the fine people who joined us for that meal. My heart rests a bit easier because we handed out thousands of calories and dozens of warm coats, sweatshirts, blankets, and gloves. It’s not a fix for the problem, but it’s a start.
That’s my point today – you don’t have to fix the problem, but you do have to try. The Good Neighbor Meal is a great place to start. With the meals I sponsor we feed 150 people and our volunteers. It works out to about $10 a week that I put toward each meal. So, for the equivalent of a couple of fru-fru coffees every week I provide a great meal to some folks that really need it more than I need a Latte. Jesus was totally forthright about us having to take care of others. This meal, and the work that goes into it, provides the feeding of the hungry, love of your neighbor, and clothing the naked that the Bible describes.
My volunteer corps are worthy of a mention here because they were spectacular. I had almost every group in my life working with me that day. I had someone I went to high school with (Hi Dave!), several fellow Christian writers (Gail, Adam!), photographers who had worked with Santa (Donna), friends from church (Diane, Shawana,) tutors I’d taught beside (Pat, Pam,) and a host of others including people I’d been to Haiti with this past year – Michael!!! Heck, we even had a visiting missionary who is on vacation from Haiti join us – Elisa, you’re the bomb!
These people, all of whom have busy lives (and about a dozen others) got there early and worked late. They contributed money, served our guests on china (yup, dignity is a big part of this meal,) and flipped burgers next to me. Not just sliders – we had restaurant quality seasoned burgers, baked beans and bacon (lots of bacon) and chips. Top it off with some good coffee and a cupcake and – well, click this link to see the pictures. They won’t all fit here.
People just like you. People who take the need to love their fellow man seriously. People following the words of Christ.
You can do it as well. Get a dozen of your friends together and talk about helping out. If you all pool funds it’s inexpensive to do a meal. I spend between $400 and $600 and serve some really fine meals. If you serve a simpler meal you can easily do it for under $400, probably closer to $300. Split 15 ways that’s just $20 bucks each. We’ll provide some core volunteers to help get you through the process and make it work. We’ll help you plan the menu, work with you to cook for a large group (it takes some practice) and coordinate your cleanup. You provide the hands and the food and it will all work out.
We need the help. My friends Pam and Pat have shouldered the load for years. I’m looking for people in the Twin Cities who can step up and do this once or twice a year. It’s fun, it’s relatively easy, and it’s God’s will. So, please click on this link and head to our Facebook page to get more information on how you can do the Good Neighbor Meal with your friends, coworkers, church, or scout troop. (Yes, it would be a great project for a scout who is working toward Eagle.)
In case you’re wondering about the title of this post I will now provide the answer: I burned my thumb on the grill scraping it down. Like Dire Straits said, “…maybe get a blister on your thumb.” It’s a small price to pay to serve others.