This month marks my one-year anniversary of volunteering with Healthy World Cafe, a community kitchen nonprofit that aims to serve a locally sourced, healthy meal to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.
I remember being strangely nervous for the first meeting I attended. I was far too early. I second-guessed my memory of where the meeting even was. I was awkward.
But as I sat and listened to this group of people talk about local food, supporting York County’s farmers and changing the way people view their dinners, I couldn’t wipe a ridiculous grin off my face.
I was so overexcited, in fact, that when I called my mom afterward to tell her about it, she thought I was being mugged.
A year later, I’ve calmed down — although I still think it’s amazing when a child (or adult!) who declares he’ll “never eat that” starts munching on a kohlrabi and carrot coleslaw.
I have vaguely better knife skills, plus I’ve dived into cooking with foods I didn’t even recognize — kale, swiss chard, spaghetti squash, brussel sprouts and more. I’ve eaten some of the best food on the planet, thanks to our local farmers and the knowledge of our head chef.
But aside from God’s gift of dried-fruit-and-oatmeal cookies, I’ve also found a place in the community. I’ve met different people and visited different parts of York than I might have otherwise. I feel more connected to downtown and its happenings, especially Central Market.
When I started my first job out of college, I was working eight or nine hours a day… and doing absolutely nothing else. As a night-shifter, I was spending my time behind a desk while all the nonprofits, young professionals’ organizations, adult sports leagues and other groups met. And I didn’t enjoy the one-sided aspect of it at all. I loved where I was living, but I didn’t know anyone outside of my coworkers, and I never felt truly connected to the town.
I’m glad to say that’s changed with York. It might have taken a few steps outside of my comfort zone — after all, not everyone is new and seeking friends like they were in college — but I appreciate having connections to my town outside of work.
How do you stay connected to your community? Share your story in a comment below.