Feast for Southeast. (For more legit info about this event, please visit Feast4Southeast.blogspot.com or email Feast4Southeast@gmail.com)
For those of you who don't know what I am talking about, strap yourselves in and get ready for the ride....
So, about six years ago, Rob had a dream. He wanted to organize a Thanksgiving event that was more than just about eating and excess. He wanted to plan a way to share this holiday with folks who were in need (in some way or another). Well, that particular year, the dream came too late as we already had plans to travel to Boston and join my parents. During the next few years, he continued to be reminded of his dream to serve others on this holiday....but always after other plans had been made. However, he always knew that he'd someday get it together and make this vision a reality
Fast forward to early September of this year. We were enjoying some after-dinner conversation with some friends and brainstorming about ways our families could serve those in need this holiday season. When I saw the glazed look in Rob's eyes, I knew what was coming. It was that night, in Ben and Michelle's living room, that Feast for Southeast started to take shape.
The very next week, the first planning meeting took place. It consisted of our good friend and pastor (Tom Vice), Rob and me. We defined our vision of what this event would be and started to brainstorm ways to gather support. From that point on, it has been like a roller-coaster....no, more like a snowball rapidly rolling downhill gaining momentum (and size).
So we knew we had the support of our church, Lifehouse. They are providing so much support it's not even funny. The design of all the materials, the credibility in the community and the manpower to make it happen. We also met with the Director of the Mt. Scott Community Center and got them to donate the space. Next, we hit the neighborhood associations in the area we wanted to target. From them we received endorsements, volunteer recruitment, event promotion and monetary support. Next, Great Harvest Bread Company and Starbucks jumped on board. The UPS Store on Woodstock donated copies of our posters and fliers. Fred Meyer came through with a gift card. Then (and I seriously almost fell over when this happened) the Oregon Culinary Institute (OCI) donated use of their kitchens and direction from one of their instructor chefs for food preparation. As if that weren't enough, OCI's vendors, Food Services of America (FSA) and Charlie's Produce came through with massive food donations.
In the meantime, the Feast for Southeast vision had grown so much beyond just feeding those less fortunate. It really became about creating a sense of community for all. We wanted to connect with those in need, those who didn't have others to get together with on the holiday, but just our neighbors in general. We wanted to share a common bond through service to others and each other. We started to see relationships grow and all kinds of warm and fuzzy craziness go down. When all this started happening, we knew it couldn't be just a 1-year deal. So, with help from our good friend Gabi, we wrote a grant proposal and submitted it to SE Uplift for next year's event.
Somewhere along the line, Warner Pacific College got wind of the story. I think what intrigued the folks there was the fact that here is a student of theirs (not to mention a full-time adult student that also works full-time) who is married to an employee of theirs (yes, yours truly) doing this crazy grassroots thing right in Southeast Portland. So they got involved. Warner Pacific provided not only a source of volunteers, but also financial support and assistance with public relations. One of the most touching things (for me at least) was when Rob received an email from the president of the college, Dr. Andrea Cook, offering herself up as a volunteer to serve in whatever capacity we needed her.
So, now you know what I've been busy with. And we're in the home stretch now. We need to finalize details, confirm donations, etc. We will be cooking all the food at OCI this coming Saturday. Feast for Southeast is taking place on Thanksgiving day, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. I invite you to come and join in the festivities. Please come. Seriously. Come enjoy a delicious meal, talk to some new people, and be with others in the spirit of community. At least stop by to say hello. And if you're not already volunteering with us this year....put it on your calendar for next year.