This March we returned to Open Arms at Hyde Park United Methodist. The program has really grown and now tops out at about 200 guests each Sunday morning.
Students of GET REAL Involved! were on hand to prepare bread and fruit for the guests, and to serve each with a smile and kind words. There was a ton to eat: biscuits and gravy, sausage, eggs, barbecue…it was a nice meal on this sunny Sunday morning.
Damian, Christine and her little brother tackled preparation of the bagels with cream cheese. Cort and Andrew were on the fruit cup preparation and despite some misguided instructions from Catherine, they had the line ready to go by serving time. Then of course we all had to wait out “the lull.” (The lull time is that in between time when all the food is ready to go, but we wait on all the guests to arrive, get their seats, and stock up on coffee and juice.) Just before serving begins Hyde Park United Methodist’s Joyful Praise Ensemble comes in to sing for the guests. They performed about three songs, then it was time to give thanks and the meal began.
Meg, Marge, Hayden, Scott, Damian, Jessica, Madelaine, Fletcher, Lindsay, Carly and Cort took the first shift on the line, greeting each guest as they came for food. Hayden, Andrew and Tyler took the role of “runners” to bring food as the line ran low. The second shift of servers included Jessica, Tyler, Andrew, Robbie and Dan.
Tanner, brother Brooks and sidekick Nina (who are all old pros at serving at Open Arms) helped to keep the flow going. Things start moving really fast once serving starts. Matt B. was the front man on getting the process of cleaning the dishes going. He had staked out that position early and worked with the Open Arms team to be sure the process would run smoothly. As dishes were emptied, both inside the kitchen and out in the dining area, the GET REAL Involved! team operated like a smooth running machine. Meg and Robbie helped Lee get all the plates dried and put away. And while some continued to man the line, clean up of the 20+ tables began. Wiping them down, collecting all the chairs, and breaking down the tables. It’s quite an operation. The cool thing is that many of the guests pitch in.
Because of daylight savings time, some guests arrived an hour later than normal, so we split into two teams: one to continue serving and the other split between cleaning up the kitchen and the dining room. Tyler manned the “Zamboni” style vacuum cleaner – and of course Tanner had to get his turn at that too, so they traded off. Nina, Hayden, Dan and several others, kept the process going until everything was back in its place. The line was broken down, the kitchen floors swept, and all the guests had departed. It was like the melee of activity that is Open Arms had never taken place!
One of the best things about GET REAL Involved! is that we can have so much fun while we work to change the world! It may seem like a simple morning serving 200 homeless men and women isn’t really changing the world, but we think every act of kindness helps to change the world.
Our next project will be on April 25th at America’s Second Harvest. If you’re interested in finding out more, click here. Talk to you next month!