Pastor, First Presbyterian Church
My involvement with CDAIDE started by volunteering with our church small group as wait staff for a Big Table industry dinner, and I saw firsthand the impact on the people who work in restaurants and hospitality-related businesses. First Presbyterian then started participating in blitzes and 'Unexpected 20's' events through Big Table, in order to bless restaurant workers with an extra tip, and the dream of bringing something similar to CDA began to grow. Big Table was a huge help as people from our church and the community formed CDAIDE.
I think more than anything, my involvement has opened my eyes to the special people who wait on my table in a restaurant, take my counter order, make my coffee, or pour me a beer. Beyond making sure I always tip well, I try to treat them with respect and engage them in friendly conversation--let them know someone notices and cares. This has created some special relationships with some truly amazing and resourceful people.
Impact-wise, now a huge sector of our population who struggle to make ends meet and who can often be a crisis away from a catastrophe, know that someone cares specifically and intentionally about them. If they have a need or a problem, they aren't alone. It's also provided a partner and help for the natural compassion of owners and managers for the employees they've trained and invested in, yet who often have personal problems that are hard to keep from affecting their work.
One of the results of CDAIDE I want to celebrate is relationships! First Presbyterian, and my family, are a part of the downtown neighborhood which includes hundreds of people working in food and hospitality. CDAIDE has opened up so many doors to meeting people, getting to know them personally, and being available to help them if needed.
Also, I was asked earlier this year to preside over a memorial service for a server at Fort Ground Grill who passed away suddenly. The place was packed with people who knew her and were regular customers. It was so cool to be a part of an organization that could come alongside her family and coworkers, to use my gifts to provide them care and put together a special time to remember her legacy. It was also cool to tell the CDAIDE story to the people gathered and even receive some donations!