Bemidji’s “Community Table” Looking For Volunteers Year Round
If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to help the community, one group in Bemidji is always in need of volunteers. Community Table serves food four days a week.
“We operate basically like a restaurant. We follow all the same health guidelines and rules and regulations,” says frequent volunteer George Stowe.
“Just seeing the amount of people that are in need in the community and being able to help them is a feeling that I can’t describe. It’s something that I feel like everyone should experience for themselves,” says Kendall Dahlberg, another volunteer.
On Mondays and Tuesdays, the meal is served at Mount Zion Church. Then, on Wednesdays and Thursdays it moves to the United Methodist Church. Doors open at 4:30, then the meal is served until 6.
“Part of volunteering is to serve, but the other aspect is being a part of the community and doing that and being able to eat with people, but also being able to serve with people,” says United Methodist Church Pastor Robb Copp.
There are a few requirements to volunteering. You have to be 12 to work in the front and 16 to work in the kitchen. While most people give sporadically, Community Table says the help is needed year round.
“We have gaps in our volunteerism, particularly in summer. During the school year we get a number of college students who come and volunteer. We have volunteers who, once they come they come back every week,” says Stowe.
Frequent volunteers say the best part about the experience is you never know who you’re going to meet. Community Table has served as many as 200 people at a time.
“What’s important about the people who come here is, we do have homeless folks but we also have folks that are facing challenges in other ways. Sometimes it’s a financial challenge and we’re providing a meal for them. Sometimes it’s older folks who are isolated,” says Pastor Copp.
Another thing to mention is everyone is invited. There’s absolutely no requirement to take a seat at the table.
“We don’t receive a paycheck. We receive rewards from the people here. Their thanks, their smiles,” says Stowe.
Dahlberg adds, “Some people may be kind of scared to volunteer but it’s not as scary as people think. People aren’t mean or anything that are coming here. They’re really appreciative of everything.”
To volunteer, simply show up at either Mount Zion or the United Methodist Church. You can also sign up here.