chapter 44 When You Are Just Starting Out

Martina, Jeff, and Lupe are recently retired teachers in a rural community. They share a deep concern that at least a dozen students in the elementary school are homeless and may have little to eat all day outside of the school lunch. They also worry that these students and other very poor students are marginalized in the community. They cannot solve the whole problem but want to do something, so they start a Friday night dinner program at the local community center to which all students and their parents are invited. After dinner, those who want to stay can play cards or watch a movie. They charge $2 per person for dinner, and the community center donates the space. In the beginning about a dozen children and their parents come, but over time, the crowd grows to a regular group of fifty to seventy-five people, crossing race and class lines, and always including the homeless children and the adults they live with. Many seniors come to these dinners also and they are considered a great success.

Although most people give more than $2 and the local grocery store and bakery sometimes donate food, the three of them are personally subsidizing the program. They have a few volunteers and an increasing number of donors but soon, the work of this very successful program becomes more than they can manage; they have to figure out a way to move forward by systematically recruiting volunteers and soliciting donations.

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