Gimme Some Mo'!

Modest now. . .but you just wait!

Modest now. . .but you just wait!

“G’mornin’!  This may sound like a weird question; but I’m travelling the country doing volunteer work, and just passin’ through.  Can I come down there today and help you out?”

“Now why would that be a strange question?  Come on down here, Man!”

That’s Walter.  Food Service Manager/Executive Chef at The Open Door.  Over the next couple days – he would put me to work, teach me about the different types of roux, and keep me from talkin’ too-too much.  (If that’s possible?)  Oh yeah – and he would inspire me to keep at it, even if in this first month – I should happen to experience the worst. 

I won’t go into detail about the trials he experienced long ago in another place; but here he is – 34 years later – still at it – and still smilin’. 

He’s the glue.  And the Big Man.  (Now, you know I'm a Bruce fan. . .does a Clarence Clemons reference work here?  If you ever meet Walter - yes, in every way.)  

Then there was Jerry – retired Marine, and all-around sweet guy.  He shows up a few times a week to help in the kitchen.  And he’s no stranger to gratitude.

And Dave - the aspiring law-enforcement officer.  It was his first day there, too.  And why’d he show-up?  Because he felt the urge to do something good in his community.  The cop-thing will happen for him, no doubt.

Then Rich – a volunteer in many places.  Semi-retired, he splits his time between VA and NY.  In the kitchen is where he prefers to spend some of his free hours. . .and he's sure he’ll be doing a lot more of it once he throws in the corporate towel. 

Enter Jamie – Program Coordinator for The Open Door.  Seemingly gentle dude, with an apparently fierce passion.  He runs the Code Blue Shelter, shares the good word, and has high-hopes for a year-round local men’s shelter.  With the help of the team he’s on - he’ll realize that last bit, I know.

Of course – there’s Jesse.  The quiet one in the back.  He’s in every day – assuming the thankless role of dishwasher.  I’m not sure how he does it – but there’s never a pile, and he goes home dry!  What?!?!?  I helped him for 10 minutes and was soaked.  Should’ve taken better notes with this one, as it won’t be the last time I’ll have a sprayer in my hand.   

How 'bout Neesha?  This former Brooklyn-ite runs the pantry on Mondays and Thursdays:

I can spot a New Yorker in the first 3 words. . .

I can spot a New Yorker in the first 3 words. . .

Why?  Because she likes helping people.  Simple.  Easy.    

And Terry, and Clarence, and the ‘Three Musketeers’ as I’ve labelled them (three church friends who help-out every-so-often). 

Let us not forget the guests.  Some were meek, many were gregarious, all were gracious.  Hard to believe that so close to a well-known, affluent summer resort – is a population in dire need of the very basics. 

I just had to come back. . .

. . .Begin – Day 2.

Crystal – single ma, new to the mix. . .we reminisced about our beloved 1990s.  (They’re comin’ back, Kids – be on the Dr. Marten lookout!)  With her in the kitchen to chat – the morning flew by.     

The Youthworks group of teens who showed up – inquisitive, eager, entirely helpful and awesome.  Talk about some kids who’ve got the right ideas about stuff. . .

Does the help put us past occupancy?

Does the help put us past occupancy?

Next was Janie – Community Relations Woman Extraordinaire!  Another member of the full-time Open Door Team, her energy is inspiring.  Though she’s new to the crew – she was born with the passion for this mission.  In a mid-morning lull – she pulled me away: “Take a ride with me, Brad.  There’s something I want to show you.”

When we pulled into the deserted parking lot of a storied old building, I couldn’t believe my eyes. 

She was right.  I'd never get the whole building in the shot.  

She was right.  I'd never get the whole building in the shot.  

“This is the building we just bought!” she proudly exclaimed.

We spent the next half-hour touring the endless maze of rooms, and great-rooms, and staircases, and levels; discussing the amazing plans for a slew of initiatives. . .

Wow. . .all I could think was: massive.

Yes, massive.  

And as I reflected upon my experience with this entire team, it became more than just the word of the day; it became the most appropriate way to describe their entire mission.  Led by a seemingly fearless woman named Kim (who I’ll someday meet!) – the Open Door Team is building a small community with only the biggest ideas.  The beauty is that they’re all coming to fruition.

I could’ve sat down this morning to tell you everything you already knew about a soup kitchen.  But this place – like any other successful place – is about the people that are drivin’ it.  They helped me more than I could’ve ever possibly helped them.  And it just goes to show – so early on – that the symbiosis is real.  Should I stop now that it’s proven? 

No way.  Gimme some mo’!