“There is no one we don’t need. A community without a place for everyone really has a place for no one.” Mike Green

 

As we challenge ourselves to think creatively about how we build community we realize we have so much to learn! And, along the way there are certainly moments when can take stock of what we are doing, listen to the community and realize we just might be on the right track. Take for example, last Thursday night.

 

Com Night 3.26 Final-3-13

Instead of volunteers serving clients like you might find at a traditional soup kitchen, we introduced Family-Style Dining where volunteers and clients alike sat down for a meal and served each other.

Always called Family Night, the fourth Thursday of every month offered a chance for clients to come together at CCN and eat with one another after being served by a generous volunteer group. However, as we push our philosophy ever more towards a client centered approach we realized we were seeing clients in a one dimensional way: we picked them up, we served them, we gave them raffle prizes, then we took them home. We had been missing a massive opportunity during which clients could not only receive, but GIVE. If you have not yet met any of our clients, let me share something with you: they are brilliant. Brilliant in terms of creativity, insight, wisdom, resilience, humor, community and relationship building, passion, understanding of racism & classism … the list goes on and on. And so we decided Family Night would henceforth become Community Night and the concept would be a space for the community to get together, to learn from each other. The food serving line was replaced by family style tables where folks could serve each other. Live music was performed by a client who borrowed a CCN guitar and played his own songs for the enjoyment of the community. Another client curated the arts and crafts table, finding identity in being the “CCN Grandma” as children clamored to spend time with her and her festive creations. Structured activities were provided for children to interact with adults in a positive way. Volunteers were no longer separated from clients by a rectangular table but were able to sit with clients and share a meal together.

 

Com Night 3.26 Final-3-17

Kids enjoyed seasonal crafts created and led by a client volunteer.

“I wish you guys had always done this. This is great-please don’t go back to the old way!” Exclaimed one mother who comes every month with her six children and was able to sit down with all of her children and calmly share a meal around a table, an experience no motel can provide.

 

“You guys should really keep doing this. It makes me feel like a human” shared another client who has long been a part of CCN.

 

Community. Reciprocity. Change. Transformation. It’s all happening here at CCN. And, it’s incredible. You are always welcome to come and join us for Community Night! Specifically, we are still looking for volunteers and food donations for May, August, September and October. Also needed are 16 round re-usable table cloths, water pitchers, a microphone, serving dishes and to-go containers. Email Megan@ColfaxCommunityNetwork.org if you have any questions!

 

 

 

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