“About six years ago, I lived in a halfway house down on 22nd and Portland. Prior to living in the halfway house, I had just gotten a divorce and my life was quickly falling apart.
At the Portland Promise Center, where this church originally was located, they would have Celebrate Recovery on Thursday nights and many of us from the halfway house would go for a meal and then attend a meeting. We were being fed, physically and spiritually. Celebrate Recovery is how I met Larry and Cathy, the pastor and his wife of the Church of the Promise. This place, The Table Café, is the first social entrepreneurial venture sponsored by the Promise Community Development organization. Eventually, I moved on and got a job at the Spaghetti factory where I quickly moved up from a server to a manager. When The Table first opened up, someone I knew from Celebrate Recovery reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in working here. I immediately put my two weeks in at the Spaghetti Factory. I knew what I had to do. Here I am today working at The Table and sitting on five years of sobriety.
Some of the people that come in are very quiet and ask about how they can receive a meal for free, but as they start coming back and learn about how they can pay for their meals by working here, they begin to feel a sense of ownership. This becomes their place and it’s amazing to see how people transform and walk around with a sense of pride. Further than that, we’re like a family - we care about building relationships here.
The pay what you can system we use here is so important because there are no sit down restaurants in Portland, the food insecurity is really bad down here. To be able to come in to a place with an upbeat atmosphere is so important. This is a real restaurant. Everyone is treated the same no matter what. Usually, you are treated by what you have or by your status. Not here. There are days where the mayor and a homeless person might be siting in the same area and no one even notices. We treat everyone the same - I don’t even want to know your title.”
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March 16, 2018