Beloved Community

GoodRoots Northwest / January 17, 2022


Every year at this time, I reflect on the words of Dr. King and read about his work. This year, a quote stood out to me that hasn't previously. The words

“Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.

jumped off the screen at me as if they were flashing lights. And as a result, I can't get the words out of my mind and I started to read more. In his words, Dr. King defines the vision of a Beloved Community as a society based on justice, equal opportunity, and love of one's fellow human beings. That the work of a Beloved Community would be grounded in relationships, trust, and human dignity. He continues to define the action towards this as a group of people that come together to solve any social issue or struggle. I cannot read these words without being overtaken with my own emotion (which I tend to keep at bay most of the time). I have always said that our organization is in the human business, not the food business. I'd like to share with you moments of humanity that I've personally experienced. I could write a 500 page book with all the things our customers say to us these past two years, but I'll give a few examples from the past 2 weeks:

A woman I was talking to this week about recipes she makes with our fresh microgreens and what her kids like to eat, stopped mid sentence and said "I feel so special when I'm here." She felt beloved.

A man with a handful a bills needing energy assistance and food, but had no access to internet and email so he decided to arrive at our door and take a chance. I gave him money for gas, connected him to resource, and invited him to shop in our beautiful space. He stood in our doorway looking inside, shocked with it's appearance and our level of customer service and personal attention. He felt beloved.

A woman over 60 came in to ask about using our pallets as firewood, not realizing we were a food bank and had never asked for help before. Her home burned down and she was living in a bus with a wood stove for heat. I gave her money for firewood and told her I don't want her chopping and hauling heavy pallets, signed her up for groceries, and gave her info on other services she could apply for. She felt beloved.

A man with a family of 11 came in after losing his job unexpectedly. He had never been to a food bank before. As he shopped, he put items in his basket that would only be enough for a family of 3 or 4. He didn't want to take too much or seem greedy. My crew instinctively knew what he was going through emotionally and approached him quietly to let him know that if he needed 2 baskets, that was fine with us. He felt beloved.

An African American man was standing in our produce section talking with our Director of his same race. They were swapping family recipes for collard greens and talking about their aunties from the south. He locked eyes with Tiffany and said, "This feels so nice. I don't get to talk to a lot of people of color around here." He felt beloved.

A volunteer grocery delivery driver gives hours of her time every Monday to deliver to 20 local senior citizens. But she delivers more than food to a population of people that might not have any other visitors. They feel beloved.

A man approached me on his first visit to The Market and asked what the rules were. I said "Well, I have one rule....and it's to not have rules. You are an adult that has every right to choose what you want to eat today. It's none of my business really." He looked at me with a smile of relief. He felt beloved.

I approached a woman my age with a disability in the parking lot and asked her if she'd like me to personal shop for her and bring it out to the car. She said "I would take you up on that if it was just me" and pointed to the back of her van with 2 little ones in car seats and said "but these guys will never forgive me if they didn't get to come inside. They love it in there." Her children feel beloved.

You see, we have become a space where all people feel beloved. Over the course of the pandemic, our organization has done our part to be a regional crisis relief effort. And we are taking it one step further and looking at ways we can improve the local economy and creating a healthier and more successful community on a larger scale. The Market is not just a food bank any longer:

It's a resource hub that continues to put back into the local economy through offsetting the household budgets for over 1400 local families. Allowing them to stay in their homes, pay rent, and provide what their children need.

It's a food hub where we dig into bigger ways we can impact local businesses and agriculture by writing grants that we can invest back into the local economy.

It's a community hub where we connect all organizations and agencies in their common goal of providing a safety net.

It's a crisis relief hub for the cities of Bonney Lake, Sumner, Buckley, South Prairie, Puyallup, and beyond.

In 2022 we hope to build upon all the ways we can continue to show up for each other as a Beloved Community, committed to creating better solutions for food insecurity in our area.