This is Grace Diner, a special service project supported by Grace Lutheran Church and volunteers in the community. Lisa Skelly, one of the leading lights behind the project, offers the center of their success. “One of our clients said to me, ‘of course the food is great, but what I really come for is the company.'” Grace Diner currently serves about a hundred meals on Monday nights, to the folks in our community who hunger for a place to socialize in addition to getting fed.
Skelly has been involved with the project since it’s inception in 2009. The radical shift in the economy that left many people unexpectedly in need gave then the idea of opening a once-a-week feast that would be more than just a plate of food. “It’s part of our mission that we serve like a restaurant, we always have three courses, and our clients are waited on by our volunteer servers.”
As the church’s kitchen, newly refurbished in 2014, buzzed with meal prep and serves popping in and out with trays, the scent of Italian spices warmed the hallway. Tonight was spaghetti and meatballs; the menu runs on a six week rotation so the diners known what to expect.
Volunteer Laura noted that it was still a bit of a scrape to get dessert together – they had an organization that was donating desserts, but the personnel in charge had changed, and that donation vanished. “It’s a little more random at the end of the meal, but everyone gets a dessert, whatever it might be.”
The people working in the kitchen covered the full spectrum. “Our oldest volunteer is in her 80’s and our youngest is 8, so we’ve got everyone.” The crew working the floor seemed to be having an evening as satisfying as the clients. Smiles were frequent, voices were kind, and the camaraderie seemed as comforting as the carbs.
Volunteers and donations are always welcome, and if you know anyone who has a hundred extra helpings of dessert on a Monday, we know where they can be put to good use.
a tax exempt, 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization