Thursday, September 12, 2013 marked the grand opening of Thursday Community Meals at Center Church in Hartford. This collaboration between Hands On Hartford and Center Church/The First Church of Christ in Hartford was supported by people from across the Hartford community: staff from Hands On Hartford and Center Church, student nurses from University of St. Joseph, volunteers from the IRS Taxpayer Advocate office, bagels and cream cheese donated by Panera Bread at Statehouse Square, and cookies donated by Downtown Subway.
We welcomed about five dozen guests for morning bagels and coffee, conversation and a delicious sausage and sauerkraut lunch. We expect that as word gets around, our guest-list will grow. The dining room has a seating capacity of 85-90, and we already have a number of groups lined up to help out by donated food, paper goods and helping to cook and serve.
Hands On Hartford’s MANNA Community Meals currently offers lunch hours Monday through Wednesday, and dinner hours Mondays and Tuesdays at Christ Church Cathedral on Church Street in Hartford. This April, the agency was forced to curtail services and stop providing lunch on Thursdays and Fridays due to budgetary constraints. Since then, the staff has been actively seeking support from donors in the Hartford area with a goal of re-opening Community Meals for Thursday and Friday lunches before the weather turns cold.
“We are thrilled to announce that we’re halfway to our goal,” reports Barbara Shaw, Executive Director of Hands On Hartford. “Center Church is one of our founding congregations and has been tremendously supportive of our mission over the decades, and we are delighted to be deepening our partnership with them.” Service at the Thursday lunch period will be jointly managed by Center Church’s Warburton Director of Outreach Ministries, and Hands On Hartford’s MANNA Program Manager.
Community Meals is also looking for volunteer groups and donors who are able to serve or assist with funding, so that they can re-open for Friday lunch in the fall. Anyone interested in joining this effort can contact Volunteer Coordinator Wanda Guzman at email@example.com.