With Open Table Coordinator Maddie Eppard
After being involved in Open Table for a few months at this point, I have had a bit of time to reflect on the impact of this experience. Before I moved to Rochester, I had never been exposed to any organization similar to OpenTable. While I was familiar with churches hosting free meals, I had never encountered an organization that left home base and traveled to those who were in need. I love the uniqueness of the OpenTable concept and how much of the community we are able to impact by not only serving at the church doors. Not being a Rochester native, Open Table helped me to understand food insecurity in our city and how our work can impact so many people throughout the community.
My favorite part of Open Table is the regular guests that we see on an almost weekly basis. When I was new to the organization every guest I met was a new face, but as the weeks went on many of the faces I saw began to become more familiar. I then started to catch names here and there and slowly learned more and more about their backstories. I was most surprised to learn how our impact extends far beyond the people we meet at the truck window. Many of our guests bring meals to other individuals and families in need that may not be able to make it to the truck.
I often admire the volunteers that have been with the organization for years. The closeness and trust they have built with our regular guests extend far beyond the food we provide. The best example of this is a woman who lives at East Ridge. Those who know her call her the ‘mother hen’ of the complex because she cares so much not only about her neighbors and her community, but also the volunteers she has come to know. She never fails to greet us with a warm smile and kind heart. In the warm weather she stays to talk with us by the truck and allows us to be a part of her personal life, but even as the weather has changed and interactions become limited, she still cares enough to ask how we are and if anyone we know needs a prayer.
Coming into this experience I did not know what to expect, but it was never this. Through Open Table I have found not only good people in the church, but good people in the community that I would have never met if it weren’t for this organization. I am excited to come back week after week because of the people I have met and the lives this organization allows us to touch. Open Table truly brings people together, not only in the kitchen, but in the community.