We commend Central Minnesota Catholic Worker members and all others involved for their successful efforts at last Sunday’s Joe Town Table, a community meal that organizers hope to conduct on a monthly basis.
Despite bitterly cold temperatures, more than 85 attendees ventured to the American Legion to meet and enjoy one another’s company, along with a hot meal. The free event is open to anyone, regardless of need, and is a way for residents to connect.
The goal is to engage the community – young and old; students, families and seniors; employed and unemployed; natives and transplants – in the thoughtful pursuit of addressing, discussing and ultimately improving the quality of life for all involved.
On the surface, quality of life may include simply an act of kindness: offering a helping hand, a smile, a salutation or even just acknowledging someone’s presence with eye contact. We all know everyone of us could benefit greatly by extending and receiving more compassion and consideration toward and from others.
On a deeper level, some of the most basic social issues – hunger, poverty, unemployment and low-wage jobs, domestic violence, substance abuse, crime and the snowball effect they create when combined – are truly the most difficult to dismantle and dissect. These topics are tough, especially if one is personally dealing with or is associated with another facing one or more of them.
When people are in “survival mode,” trying desperately to put food on the table, find a job or suitable living conditions, and many other factors which play into all of that, it’s very difficult for most to dream, let alone set goals to attain those dreams. And bearing witness to such formidable obstacles can make the strongest, most optimistic person feel like one person just doesn’t have the ability to make a difference.
Yet, each of us has the capability to do what we’re able in the circumstances we encounter: babysit for a single mother interviewing for a job, offer to pick up a few grocery items for a shut-in next door, shovel or snowblow a neighbor’s driveway, volunteer to help serve at one of the community meals.
When we take action, it empowers us to tackle even more challenges. A community meal is a baby step toward confronting the larger issues. But it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
We hope all residents, at one time or another, invest in themselves and their neighbors by attending one of the upcoming meals held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. the fourth Sunday of each month at the American Legion in St. Joseph. See you there!