Editor’s note: This was written originally by a friend co-laboring down in Indianapolis, who first posted it to her personal blog. We are grateful she was willing to let us re-share these words with you.
From author: My name is Molly. I am an advocate. For the poor, for my children, and for a faith that is well-represented. Advocacy has taken on many different forms for me over the years. Currently I run a food pantry on the east side of Indianapolis that provides food to over 1,200 families each month. I used to think I was called to serve those living in poverty, but over the past few years I’ve learned that’s just one piece of it. I believe part of my calling is to equip and empower others to do the same.
It is early morning and the sun is just beginning to wake. That first drink of coffee warms my lips, warms my inside. I kiss my children goodbye, the two hour delay leaving them home, snuggled on the couch this bitter January day. I zip my coat, tighten my scarf and head for work. On the radio they talk about subzero temperatures and snow delays, make jokes about how it’s too cold to leave the house even for the kids to go sledding. But when I arrive at the Food Pantry, an hour and a half before we open, I find plenty of people that have already left the house. I find some waiting in their cars, others peering through the windows to see what’s inside. One comes out from around back, probably checking to see if we’ve set anything salvageable out for the trash.
We will serve two hundred families that day. Many will come in under dressed for the weather. Some will wait at the bus stop for a ride. Others will even walk. For many of our families, our waiting room will be the warmest place they sit all day. They will wait patiently with their children for their turn to shop. Wait patiently with their infants. There is an older man that catches my eye. He nearly falls coming up to the counter, tripping over his own feet. He talks to me about his arthritis as he holds up a shaky hand with a cane. Smiles warmly and says, ‘Thank You,’ as he moves slowly toward the shopping carts. I will lose count that day of the number of people that say, ‘Thank You.’
Each person that comes through the pantry line has a story that has brought them to this place of great need. Sometimes the need is so deep and so real that you can see it on them the moment they walk in. There is a heaviness they carry. A certain sadness that hovers over them as they speak. A quiet desperation in their eyes.
In November 2014, I traveled to San Francisco and spent 5 days (Thursday–Monday) skating the streets to introduce FoodCircles to different startups, engineers, and connectors. I received some of the best technical, managerial, and fundraising advice of my life and wrote the following as a response to the question, “So, how did it go?”
Guidepost to Reading — There are two general ways of reading this post:
The “Lessons” Route: skim down the post, looking for the bold or yellow-highlighted sections. When you find something you like, feel free to read the context.
The “Narrative” Route: read the full perspective of an entrepreneur—and many times wantrapreneur—trying to find his way through the city and his first startup.
Late Wednesday Night
The journey started on a late, rainy night finding my way into the hills of Chinatown to get to my Couchsurfing host’s apartment. I once slipped on my longboard and watched it almost get crunched by traffic. Thinking back, losing my board would have greatly limited my trip and experience. But thankfully, that didn’t happen. I got to Ken’s place and he was already asleep, leaving a note for me on the table. I hit the strange bed in the strange city in the heart of Chinatown and tried to get ready for the day that was to come.
One thing our team recently realized was that there was no concise, readable, site that showcased public Grand Rapids food specials from local restaurants. What we’ve done is start a list that will hopefully be useful for you, the diner, to scan specials by location & day. Want to add something? Email us / comment below. We’ll add it here ASAP.
“BOFO” = Buy One, Feed One. $1+ dish (pay more if you like), 100% donated to charity.
(Anderson Cooper / 60 Minutes also produced a clip, but with some graphic footage of children. To view, click here.)
Some folks ask us about the food we donate globally. Above is a short doc on the food provided when you use FoodCircles to eat and select World Vision at your preferred charity. World Vision works with us to provide a life-saving substance called Plumpy’Nut to kids in Niger, Nigeria, Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, among others. But what’s Plumpy’Nut? Continue reading →