When I bought my ticket back in July, I told my friend Wendy D I didn’t know if I’d have time to attend the dinner, a benefit for the soup kitchen she volunteered for, located in her town in Rhode Island. I was happy to donate, but I didn’t want to commit my time. The truth was, I wanted to be sure I’d be there with friends, and I didn’t know which of my friends would be interested in and/or would tolerate a benefit. I imagined a spaghetti supper at a Knights of Columbus. Raffle tickets. Locals. I wasn’t that I could tolerate these conditions myself.
Fast forward three months. A table of ten, all long-time friends. A gaggle of women, including our hostess, and two husbands—good sports and tolerant/supportive of their wives. Wendy D’s husband, Michael, even volunteered to have us follow Jim from their home to the venue. He drove slowly and never lost me. Truly, an escort.
An yes, this benefit took place at a K of C. Festooned with balloons and a 50s theme, the place was transformed from watering hole and bingo place to friendly table-clothed dinner. Plus there were raffle tickets ($10 for 20) and silent auction items. WD and her colleagues wandered about selling a symbolic Christmas ornament, a bejeweled and be ribboned spoon.
While we enjoyed our generous portions of salad and lasagna, chicken and tasted potatoes? Rolls and butter, punch or cash bar, the leaders of the organization, including our own WD, shared words of thanks and information. This place not only feeds needy people—no questions asked—two meals a day, it offers all kinds of services to support folks in re-entering the workplace (simple but profound concepts as free laundry machines, haircuts, clothing, legal assistance, clothing and a food pantry to augment the daily, communal meals). One full-time person. Many volunteers. How does this place even run?
Clearly there are many like my friend WD, who wore a vintage print dress, a Lacey apron, cat eye glasses, ankle socks and penny loafers, and a scarf tied around her ponytail. She stopped periodically, to eat a little, to chat, but otherwise she was zooming around encouraging others, selling spoons, checking on the progress of the silent auction items. Michael was sent to a nearby Staples to buy more raffle tickets—they were running out!
An a Capella group performed upbeat 50s tunes. (Turns out these guys were in a network a cappella singing show. They got close to the finals, but alas, didn’t win.) there was spontaneous dancing. How wonderful—how cool.
And while none of the 20 or so raffle items were won by our table, we placed the highest bids for three of the dozen or so silent auction items. Not bad! We laughed. We danced (well, some of us in our chairs!) and ate ice cream sandwiches and penny candy after our hearty dinner. We enjoyed each others company while supporting out friend’s cause. That’s what friend’s do, right?
Indeed it is. I just dropped off two friends in Jamaica Plain. Yes, we drove the hour or do to get to our spot in Rhode Island. In fact, we made a tooling around day of it. It was a gorgeous, bright fall day. And now, while I’m crossing the BU bridge back to my side of the world, I touch my neck, and the necklace on it—the lovely Sterling and crystal Piece I just won in the In the silent auction!
What I won was a reminder—that this is a strong group of unconditional friends.