Great Things Come from Small Tables

At SLF we love tables.  We even have a methodology built around tables.  It’s called Table Sitting, Table Setting, Table Serving.  The first one means we sit at the tables of community groups and organizations to listen and learn.  The second is when SLF sets the table and invites partners to come network, learn, expand capacity, and build relationships.  The third is when SLF helps a partner (or partners) set their own tables to share and grow.

Some of the tables SLF is blessed to set include the monthly CaN (Churches as Neighborhood) Centers lunch; the Breaking Bread/Breaking Barriers lunch at the KROC Center; pastoral cohort gatherings called Preaching Peace and Practicing Peace; and the Community Partnership Teams (CPTs) located in the high-school feeder areas.  SLF shepherds four CPTs in Salem and partners closely with Keizer United CPT.  We are hopeful one will emerge in the Sprague area this year.

You never know what will emerge from the CPT table. That’s the beauty.  It’s 12-18 partners coming together monthly with idea, projects, and requests.  They brainstorm, strategize and get to work.  In January, at the Community and Partners of East Salem (CaPES) CPT, a special request came to the table from Swegle Elementary School.  Elisa Evert, the community school outreach coordinator (CSOC), shared that the principal, Sarah Kimmell, was hoping to do something meaningful for her staff to lift spirits during these incredibly challenging times.  One of the partners at the table, Jackie Franke, suggested some locally-baked pies from Willamette Valley Pie Company, where she had a connection.  WHOOSH!  Long story short, what started at the CaPES CPT table with a single school soon spread to all 65 schools across the Salem-Keizer school district.  Not only were teachers uplifted, but all of the nearly 6,000 staff members – from administrators to bus drivers – received a personal pie and note of support.

From one table, one school, and one idea came 18 sponsors who donated $16,252 within a three-week period.  First Nazarene Church stepped up to provide the space and 20 volunteers to sort 9 pallets of pie!  Then 100+ volunteers delivered the pies Feb. 9-11.  So many good people cheerfully rising up to tell our school folks “We see you”  and “You matter” and “Thank you!”   Based on rave feedback, mission accomplished!

Hopefully this won’t be a one-and-done.  It’s our hope that the community would be inspired to organize more expressions of hope, small and large,for our local teachers and school workers.  Shalom!