My Last Food Bank Board MeetingPosted: June 29, 2017
As I was driving home tonight my car made a dinging sound that meant I had a text message from Carter. The car read the message aloud, “I’m home. Call me if you want. I know it’s a sad day for you.” I had just left the Food Bank where I had my last board meeting. For as long as Carter can remember I have been volunteering at the Food Bank and through lots of loop holes had been on the board for thirteen years. My heart was sad about leaving, but was comforted that my child had such compassion for me.
At the end of the board meeting, which is a long and very important one as it is the end of our fiscal year, our board chair, Eddie Story did the presentations to thank the board members rolling off the board this year. There were only two of us, my friend Matt Martin and myself. Eddie, read long lists of our contributions and responsibilities and then we each were given beautiful glass bowl, something I am glad I suggested as a parting thank you years go.
After the presentations I asked if I could say a few words. I figured as a past chair and vocal member of the board I could stretch the meeting out one more minute. I chose to explain why I was so passionate out the mission of the Food Bank, something I was not sure I had told these people before.
“When I was in my early twenties I had a side business as a caterer in Washington DC. Sometimes I had so much leftover food from parties that I would end up throwing some of it away in my rolling trash cart in the alley behind my house. One morning I went out to put something in my cart and I was met by a man who looked a lot like me. He was about my age and was wearing a blue blazer and khaki pants. ‘You have the best garbage in DC,’ he told me.
What do you say to that? Thank you seemed inappropriate. I told the man that if he wanted I could leave food in a box on top of my trash rather than in the bin. He said that would be great and he walked away with a handful of cold hors d’oeuvres. It was then I noticed his clothes were a little tattered and he could use a shower. He was the first homeless man I had met who could have gone to prep school.
After that I always left good food on top, rather than in my trash bin. The box was always gone. Although I never saw that man again once or twice I found a scrap of paper that just read ‘thank you.’ It was then that I thought there must be a better way.
A few years later I moved to Durham and my minster Hayward Holderness was the current chair of the Food Bank. He told me I need to volunteer and that is how I got here.”
As I was telling this part of the story I was overwhelmed and my eyes filled up of tears. I tried to go on without sobbing, but it took an extra minute to compose myself as I tried to tell my fellow board members and executive staff what I wanted to say in my final parting.
“This is why this work is so important. This is a great organization that does amazing work. It is so important for all you board members to show up, volunteer your time and make big decisions. The staff are the best and the Food Bank has come so far in the seventeen years I have been volunteering. Thank you for all you do.”
My time on the board may be over, but I am not leaving the Food Bank. I have projects to work on that will keep me busy for at least the next year.
After most everyone else had said goodbye I walked out to the lobby alone to leave and turned and looked at the words of our mission “No one goes hungry in Central and Eastern North Carolina.” It made me happy to know that children don’t have to look through garbage cans to find food here, but then I wondered about that man in DC. I hope when I moved and he no longer had my boxes of food that he too found an organization like our Food Bank to help him. In this country of ours no one should have to eat from garbage cans.