I have always been interested in cooking and preparing meals so I felt like that would be an area that I could specialize in without any disappointments. I pondered for several days wondering what I could do to enhance my community. I begin by going to different businesses asking for donations of various food items that could be used in this awesome mission. I was elated about the overwhelming response I received from my community helpers such as Winn-Dixie, Piggly Wiggly, Dollar General, Family Dollar and various churches and civic organizations to name a few. The school donated by allowing me to set up my prepared meals in the vacant cafeteria once school was out of session. Several of the cafeteria staff was willing to volunteer their time also which would be greatly appreciated.
So I began spreading the great news about my mission on May 16, 2015 throughout my community. I was undecided about a venue that could accommodate numerous individuals for this phenomenal task and with the assistance of my family and friends assisting me with a little rearranging, the only thing I needed to do then was decide on a time that would be most productive for the mission. After collaborating with my partners, the ultimate decision was Saturdays @ 3:00 p.m. I was so excited that I could hardly sleep the nights prior to the first meal.
The next thing I need to do was review my checklist ensuring that I had all the paper products and supplies along with the food to carry out my dream task. Off to Sam’s I went smiling as I ventured down every aisle making my selections that would make my meal perfect and praying that everyone that received a meal would be grateful and be thoroughly filled.
So, I begin preparing various items that would allow my cooking schedule to be as smooth as possible to ensure the best meal ever. A great chef always makes sure that they have sufficient time because that is the key to success! I took my time and baked the best cupcake recipe I had along with an array of other desserts that I thought would display variety just in case one of my visitors disagreed with one choice or another. The aroma of fresh baked goods illuminated the neighborhood, this bought excitement to hearts of all that volunteered and donated to this wonderful cause.
Once everything started coming together, I was able to finalize the first meal date which was June 19, 2015. With only a few days left to prepare, we all immediately went into overdrive making sure that everything would go off as planned. The days leading up we hit the ground running every day concluding the final touches, step by step everything slowly began to fall in place.
The week of first meal we work effortlessly arranging the tables, washing lemonade and tea canisters and wrapping plastic ware that would be used for eating. Everyone felt a discreet sense of accomplishment because our big day was just around the corner! Then we decided to announce the first menu that would be served, it included the following baked chicken, yellow rice, green beans with potatoes, rolls, drinks(sweetened and unsweetened tea) and desserts(cupcakes and cookies). We were well on our way to bringing smiles to the faces of homeless or less fortunate individuals in the Jefferson County community.
We arrived at the venue on Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. with designated duties to ensure that all of the meal would be ready and prompt. By 2:15 p.m. we were awaiting our guests with the largest smile our face could muster. Shortly after the moment we had been planning for had finally arrived.
The line began to form one by one and two by two they were all welcomed in with a cold glass of lemonade or tea and a menu so that they could decide what they wanted to enjoy and yes the majority wanted everything that was offered. As the serving line began operating the thank you grew numerously, tears ran down their cheeks as they received their plates. They were also grateful for the opportunity to sit down in an air conditioned room and eat with pure enjoyment.
After second servings and fixing several to go plates our total headcount were about 65 individuals. We felt great knowing that we had provided at least one meal to well deserving, unfortunate neighbors. Within a few hours we received several messages in regards to the next dinner and we gladly responded with July 10, 2015. There was also enough food left that our families that had contributed so much time and energy also enjoyed a meal as we began our cleaning up process. There were several more missions carried out after this one. The July 10th mission served 75 individuals and the July 17th mission served 80.
I will continue spearheading more community mission of this nature to show our community that we do care about them. I was also able to explain to my kids about the importance of giving back to your community and supporting those whom at some point and time supported you. They began throwing out random ideas that we used to construct our next mission, we were truly grateful for this opportunity and made promises that it will continue.
If our nation as a whole would take time out to see observe the things that we take for granted daily and share our wealth with others we can curtail issues such as hunger, sickness and disease within our communities. We will also incorporate health fairs with local community partners such as SWAT, Dental Mobile, Women and Child Nutrition, Pastors, Counselors and various others that can inform individuals about the free services that are available within the county.
There is still a lot of work to be done in Jefferson County but I do believe we are well on our way to accomplishing a great portion of this task. Thanks again Mrs Solandi for your motivated to enhance my community.