In December, I reached out to Bee Roll, owner of Beezy's Cafe, to see if she might be willing to speak with my class about how she uses food as a way to build community through her restaurant. She then told me about a new event space that she'd purchased (right across the street from Beezy's) and said that it might be neat to do some sort of program there with the 7-8s. I agreed.
Fast forward to February 28, when over sixty people gathered at Project23 for dinner prepared by Bee and the 7-8s as a fundraiser for Freedom House, a shelter in Detroit that provides critical services to refugees seeking asylum. (Side note: When we first decided to do a community dinner fundraiser, we discussed several organizations to which we might donate our proceeds. After learning about the comprehensive services offered by Freedom House, its recent cut in federal funding, and its uncertain future, the students voted to support this organization.)
In between that initial meeting with Bee and March 1 (the day after the dinner, when we sat in our classroom to debrief and eat leftovers), we worked diligently to plan the event. Focusing on collaboration skills (taking responsibility for oneself; helping the team; respecting others; making and following agreements; organizing work; and working as a whole team) and planning skills (event promotion; organization of information in shared documents and spreadsheets; communication of tasks and responsibilities; logistics; and time management), the class worked together to take the idea from our classroom out into the world.
Planning tasks and keeping one another accountable
Trying on the aprons
Loving the aprons
Sketching out poster ideas
Prepping the salad dressing
Chopping the fruit
Always time for a waltz (or a waltz-like dance)
Serving the dinner
More delicious dinner
Enjoying the company of friends and families
As we ate the aforementioned leftovers the day after the event, we discussed what worked well, what worked less well, and shared highlights. Highlights included: "a whole new experience," "serving dinner to my family," "meeting new people," and "getting to talk to new adults." In addition to our own personal (and collective) highlights, we also raised over $500 to help asylum seekers entering our country.
Huge, huge, huge thanks to Bee Roll for her kitchen wizardry and for welcoming us into her space. Additional gigantic thanks to the friends and families who supported us in this endeavor.
If you would like to join us in supporting Freedom House, please do.