From Jennifer Arkins, Cobblestone Project Operating Team... For me, Saturdays are usually spent enjoying the lazy days of summer. For many in NWA, Saturdays are spent wondering where their next meal will come from, where they might enjoy a respite from the heat, burdened with the reality of poverty. So, this Saturday, I had the priviledge of visiting some people in our area who are working towards a community without need.
In the early hours of Saturday morning our Gathering and Distribution team collect produce (much grown on our Farm), and distribute to local shelters, agencies, our farmers market booth, and soup kitchens. This team provides healthy foods to those who need it most. At the shelters and agencies this produce is prepared for clients in need.
When our Farm produce is delivered to the Farmers Market, some of it is sold (the income raised supports our cost to plant). However, not all produce is sold. This spring, we were able to partner with a local school, providing gift cards to children who are at risk for hunger. These gift cards may be redeemed weekly for free fresh produce. While I visited our booth, I was blessed with the opportunity to see a mom and her two children, redeem her gift card for a free bag of fresh tomatos, potatoes, peppers, and such. The mom was thankful for the nutritious produce, in a time when food is hard to come by.
After leaving the Farmers Market, I stopped by our Saturday Cafe at the Samaritan Community Center. I am so glad that I did. The kitchen crew was busy slicing up tomatoes, lettuce, potatoes,strawberries and bananas from that mornings distribution. Our wonderful chefs then prepared shrimp and lobster poboy sandwiches, potato soup, and fruit salad to serve to our clients that day.
I had the opportunity to grab a few minutes with Mark Poole and hear his story about why he is serving at the Samaritan Community Center.
As you can see I was lucky to get to share the delicious meal with some great people.
I visited with my people greeter that I see weekly at Wal-Mart and I visited with two moms and their children whom I have known for months from Laundry Love. My son got some great book recomendations from two new friends from Rogers. The most amazing part was seeing a client from Samartian Community Center come early, so that he could help prepare and set up for the other clients, before enjoying a bite himself. It was truly this small community coming together.
I left a little overwhelmed with the fact that all this had happened before noon. That lives are being changed on Saturdays, before I've even gotten out of my pj's and had my coffee.
If you would like to learn more about any of the initiatives listed above, please visit the Cobblestone Project Initiative Overview page for more information on how to help.