During our first pop-up a few weeks ago, I finally began to see A Place at the Table (APATT) coming to fruition. As I saw our mission happening right before us that day, I began to think about one of the many people I had the pure fortune of meeting before APATT was APATT.
My life changed the day I met Jason. Jason had a terrific life, full of adventure, awesome jobs, and traveling. His life goal was to be an actor and he was going to do everything he could to get there. Jason had been in Raleigh for a short time, leaving his dogs behind in Greenville. He thought Raleigh had plenty of jobs and he could have a great life here. He thought he could go back to get his dogs as soon as he was settled. Unfortunately the jobs in Raleigh were hard to come by. He lost the job he had because they had to do remodeling in the restaurant he was serving in. Being jobless for a few weeks forced Jason to move out of his apartment and had him sleeping on the streets, walking endless night after endless night. This is where he decided to pop in to see me. He and I developed a close friendship. I walked with him in his journey and he walked with me in mine. I sat with him when he cried and he sat with me when I cried. I ate with him when he was hungry and he ate with me when I was hungry. I laughed and hugged Jason when beautiful things happened in his life and he laughed and hugged me when beautiful things happened in mine. We were friends. We were not people ‘serving each other’ across the line of people who didn’t know each other who were simply helping one another out. We were from different walks of life, had different childhoods, and worked different jobs. I may have slept in a house each night that we saw each other and he may have slept on a bench each night, but we were friends. Jason is now working multiple jobs, is enrolled and in college, AND is doing some acting gigs. I know he is going to be famous one day and I’ll be the first to get his autograph.
Jason showed me and continues to show me each day how important A Place at the Table is for Raleigh. With the craziness of this year, building a nonprofit from scratch, it can seem years away from happening. However, as long as it is taking to be in our brick and mortar building, the community that has been built through this process has already has proven to all of us that Raleigh is ready for this place. I cannot tell you enough how much I appreciate your thoughts, prayers, kind words, and support this past week. Every day we are one step closer to being a place for Jason, all of you, and I to have a meal together. We all will have a place at the table.