The Kitchen Table wants you

Dear Editor,
The Kitchen Table in Rochelle began operation three years ago on June 30, 2016.  Since then, founders Carolyn and Grant Brown have fed a lot of hungry mouths, connected strangers as new found friends, and shown all of us how much good can be done when we all come together as one in community.  In fact, the Browns can lay claim to establishing the first community cafe or, “pay what you can café” in Illinois.
Those of us who have had the honor of serving the Kitchen Table on the board of trustees have been both honored and humbled to be a part of this endeavor, but it hasn’t always been easy.  
We have learned so many things that have made us pause and reflect. We even had some experiences that raised the hairs on the backs of our necks.
Things that make us pause include the number of people who go hungry right here in our State of Illinois by no fault of their own. So many people live paycheck-to-paycheck and any kind of interruption in their work life can lead to a catastrophe in their family lives.
We also have learned that so many people live alone and are lonely and have a second hunger for simple human contact and conversation. Our senior citizens often fit in this category.
The thing that makes us shiver is when things just kind of miraculously happen and pieces of the puzzle just automatically fall into place. A piece of kitchen equipment is needed and all of a sudden somebody writes us a donation check or some local corporation comes through with a grant for us.  
The only real negatives in this adventure have been those who have spoken negatively about us or perpetuated gossip and rumors when all we (the Browns and the board) are trying to do is good by serving others who are less fortunate. To put some of these misunderstandings to rest…
• As per our founder Carolyn Brown’s vision, the Kitchen Table, Incorporated, is 100 percent volunteer operated. Nobody gets a dime from being involved with the Kitchen Table.  
• It is not a “soup kitchen.” I cannot recall us ever serving soup… though we have had chili now and again when the weather was right for it.
• We are not out to compete with local restaurants. We only serve about 10 meals per month and we can only seat 36 at a time as of now.
• It is not a dining establishment just for the poor. Rich and poor alike come to dine together in community and those who have much pay a little extra for those who have less and nobody needs to know or care who-is-who… just as God intended us to live.
I would like to conclude by saying if you have yet to dine at the Kitchen Table, you are missing out on a pretty amazing current trend and Carolyn Brown is an outstanding cook to boot.
Also, if you have a longing to volunteer and serve others, the Kitchen Table offers outstanding experiences to serve others in a food service setting. It is a great opportunity for church, civic and youth groups.
Check out the “Volunteer” page of our website,  Our volunteers are the heart of the Kitchen Table café. You could be a part of that heart.
Mark Schwendau
Kitchen Table Board Trustee


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