AmeriCorps Week 2013 Blog Series – Community Meal

AmeriCorps Week 2013 took place from March 9th to March 17th. Several of our HealthCorps Navigators have agreed to write about their experiences, starting with Pat Wildes.

When our group of HealthCorps Navigators first sat down in the fall to discuss plans for AmeriCorps Week, we quickly decided that we wanted to focus our efforts on Connecticut’s homeless population. Using several of CHC’s WYA (Wherever You Are) Healthcare for the Homeless locations as a starting point, we set out to schedule a week of meaningful service projects that would benefit people battling homelessness or who are – more generally – underserved in one way or another.

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Magician Johnny Fox entertaining a crowd at the Community Meal

As AmeriCorps Week 2013 began to take shape, we started to look for locations to host a kick-off event on the first night of the week. The Church of the Holy Trinity in Middletown was generous enough to offer us a social hall for several hours on the night of Monday, March 11th, and we took full advantage of this opportunity. The planning for a “kick-off event” quickly turned into a community meal, as we felt there was no better way to start off a week dedicated to helping others than providing a hot meal for people who might not normally have dinner. We contacted local grocery stores hoping to secure some donated food for the meal, and several vendors came through with either gift cards or actual foodstuffs. Additionally, a friend of one of our Navigators is a chef and not only volunteered to help prepare food on the night of the event, but was also kind enough to bring a considerable amount of additional provisions with him.

The result of these remarkably generous acts was a community meal at which over 90 members of the greater Middletown community were able to eat hamburgers, chicken, french fries, salad, and desserts over the course of 3 hours. Many returned for seconds, and we even had two or three burgers left over at the end of the night for people to take with them. The night did not exclusively feature food, as magician Johnny Fox wowed many of those in attendance with his ability to swallow both swords and balloons, and a karaoke machine allowed attendees to perform a rendition of their favorite song. A large piece of paper labeled a “Home Wall” was also posted in the social hall, and numerous messages about what home means to certain individuals were inscribed by night’s end.

Our primary goal going into the night was simple: provide a comfortable environment in which people could actually enjoy dinner. I think that it is safe to say that we accomplished this. Some people came, took some food, and left, while others spent the better part of the night eating and enjoying the entertainment that was on display. I can speak on behalf of all of our Navigators in saying that we are beyond thankful to all of those who made the community meal possible, and we do hope it can become more a regular occurrence in the future. It set our AmeriCorps Week off to a fantastic start, and we hope that those who came benefitted from their experience.

For more coverage on what our HealthCorps Navigators did during AmeriCorps Week 2013, check out our Facebook page (CHC Community HealthCorps) or Twitter handle (@CHCHealthCorps).

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