Saturday August 7
Updated: Aug 15, 2021
Saturday was a whirlwind, in multiple ways. Far more people were out and about than usual because a community health clinic had set up nearby and was offering Covid tests and vaccinations. We had a long line of people waiting by the time we cleaned up and set up. Everything moved so fast that we were all working at top speed the entire time. I did get to have a few conversations with regular guests, which were a mix of heartwarming and heartbreaking:
Ernie, a recent volunteer from the neighborhood (who also helped me the first day I came out on my own), showed up to help once again. We were so glad to see him. He does a fantastic job of working the space in front of our serving tables by encouraging people to come eat, showing them where the line starts, and passing out masks and water while they wait. I was standing next to him at one point when he looked around and said to no one in particular, “I was made to do this!” I said, “That makes me so happy! Please come back every week. We love having you,” and gave him a hug.
Jerome stopped by again to thank us for helping him when he was dehydrated. He told me he was having a hard week as his mom is seriously ill and has dementia, so we chatted a bit. We gave him water (lots of water!) and hugs and told him again how grateful we are to see him.
Sadly, I also saw one of my favorite regulars in a way I hadn’t seen him before. Lamont has a huge vocabulary and formal way of speaking that has always made him stand out. We have had long conversations in previous weeks about national politics, about what it would take to get more people vaccinated, and whatever else might be on his mind. This week, I heard him refer to the finely minced parsley in the homemade coleslaw as “a chiffonade” and I said, “A chiffonade? Are you a cook, Lamont?” He told me he used to be a cook at the Century Club downtown. But it was hard for him to tell me more because he was nodding out. He lingered nearby for a while and each time I passed by him, he would pull himself up for a moment, seemingly embarrassed, and say, “Goodness, my allergies are really acting up. I’m not myself!” I had never seen him like in all the months we have been talking and it broke my heart.
These Saturdays are so intense that it often takes a day or two to process everything we see and hear. I try hard to stay focused on our mission: providing a weekly hour of connection, conversation, and delicious food. We had extra volunteers on hand this week to help us deliver on that promise, thank goodness, and I will thank them properly in tomorrow’s post.
Stats: 100 barbecue sandwiches, 50 bag lunches, 50 homemade brownies, clementines and bananas, toiletry kits and 300+ masks.