Small Things with Great Joy

Posted on Posted in Hospitality

“Do small things with great joy.”

That was the quote that came to Gail’s mind when I asked her to summarize her past couple months of providing Shade Tree Hospitality on Patchwork’s front lawn.

Indeed, it has been very much about the small things: a cup of lemonade, some fresh produce, a blood pressure check, a short chat about life these days.

Gail observed, “There’s minimal service, but it’s received with much appreciation.”

She told the story of a woman who came to Patchwork in the middle of having a difficult day. Gail characterized the woman’s mood when she arrived as “unsatisfied.” The woman needed to complain. She wasn’t happy that her initial request of Patchwork could not be met, but Gail and Shawn spoke with her to find out more. In the end, there were some things they could do to assist her.

“And she left blessing us,” Gail said. “We hadn’t offered a lot, but it was accompanied by Patchwork’s usual generosity of spirit.”

Gail observed that in re-starting Patchwork Hospitality in a new, socially-distanced format “there was a sense of reunion, of people getting together who had not seen each other for a while.”

We continue to meet with our guests outdoors and to keep our building closed to the public, so our daily Hospitality Hostesses have taken on new roles greeting everyone who arrives and coordinating services between these guests and the staff and volunteers inside our building.

They list the extra produce that’s available and suggest that someone go around to the back door of the food pantry to inquire about some extra bread. They ask initial food pantry intake questions and relay requests for referrals to Shawn in the main office. They locate John in order to track down some extra supplies from the Sozo Health Ministry.

The day after Gail was here, Mary laughed recounting a meeting with Clay, one of our past regulars who stopped by a couple weeks ago. He’s been in housing for over a year now and she thought he was looking really healthy. She told him, “I’m not supposed to do this, but let me give you a hug.”

“OK,” he’d responded, but thinking of her he added, “But let me put my mask on first.”

After Mary told her story, Nancy appeared with two plantains from the food pantry. She handed one to James, another of our regular guests who had stopped by to visit. Along with the banana, she gave him a cooking challenge: cut it up and fry it and see how it tastes. She would do the same with hers and when she sees him again next Thursday they will compare notes to see who cooked it best. He reminisced about the fried banana desserts he’d seen when he worked at the Petroleum Club restaurant.

At that point, it was time to close up shop and roll the snack cart indoors for the morning.

You’ll find us providing Shade Tree Hospitality on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 am-noon. After Labor Day, we’ll expand that to Monday-Thursday from 9 am-noon.

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