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Home In the Community Feed Brookline Drive What I Saw At The Feed Brookline Dinner

What I Saw At The Feed Brookline Dinner

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The Feed Brookline Drive is an organic partnership between all segments of our community to support one universal cause; the Brookline Emergency Food Pantry.  Town residents drop off coins, bills, and checks into plastic containers at local businesses in the hopes their efforts will insure that nobody goes to bed hungry within our borders.  Brookline High School students collect the contributions and everything goes to make our hometown just a little bit better. No hype, no deals, all we get is the gratification that comes with giving.

We appreciate the generosity of our raffle donors:

Koko Fit Club
Eureka! Puzzles
Party Favors
The Pear Tree
Tiny Hanger
Brookline Booksmith
Coolidge Corner Theatre
Clear Flour Bread
Cause to Paws
Fire Opal
Paris Creperie

Our annual Feed Brookline Drive concludes with a benefit Dinner at the Fireplace.  Remarkable generosity and compassion was alive and well even before the dinner started. Just hours before the dinner, I saw 11 local businesses, most of them the usual suspects, donating hard-earned gift certificates for a raffle. I saw my friend from Rhode Island contribute 4 seats to Pantry volunteers just to let me know my friends are behind me.  My good buddy Paul Epstein and his brother Theo's charity, The Foundation to Be Named Later, contributed a major sponsorship so that others could have a seat at the dinner.  I saw Advisory Committee Chairman Harry Bohrs and Town Administrator Mel Kleckner, who were working too late at committees to attend, volunteer their seats to volunteers as well.  I saw the new Manager of Eastern Bank, Tom McLaughlin; donate 3 extra seats so the Brookline Food Coop could attend.  I saw consummate town hero, Elaine Joseph, of Bank of Canton purchase an extra ticket so one more bank employee could attend.  Too many Brookline residents and business folks to name purchased tickets knowing they could stay longer than a drink or couldn’t attend at all just to do the right thing.

When the mingling started, every walk of Brookline life convened together.  Jim Solomon, owner of the Fireplace, and unofficial leader of Brookline’s Mensch Mob, spoke to us about green restaurants.  The Fireplace is like the entertainment room you wished you owned. It’s a place to enjoy the finest food while feeling like you are a guest in your friend’s home.

I saw Sarah Gladstone, a freshman at Brookline High and youngest recipient of a BrooklineHub.com Youth Award speak to those in attendance about her non-profit organization, The Starfish Project.  She has raised over $8,000 to help young women,  some her own age, suffering from obstetric fistula, severe internal damage occurring  as a result of neglected childbirth .  The gathering hung on Sarah’s every world, shocked by what they learned and amazed at the incredible young woman in front of them. 

The gathering also heard from Jonathan Mande, a young man who arrived with his family of 12 from the Congo a decade ago.  Jonathan recounted how Paul Epstein and the Brookline Emergency Food Pantry helped his family during their first years in our country.  His smile and honesty captivated us and made us feel proud of our town.   He courageously told us what life is like when you don’t have the proper nutrition. Now in his early twenties, Jonathan has quickly become a pillar of his community.  His sister hopes to become the first woman President of the Congo. The Pantry gave them a hand up, not a hand out.

We saw David Leschinsky of Eureka! Puzzles and Abe Faber of Clear Flour Bread, whose businesses together collected approximately $5,000 from their devoted customers to support FeedBrookline, good-naturedly spare with each other over who would collect more next year.  They showed us what makes local business different from big business.  David and Abe are good neighbors, relaxed, caring, funny, sometimes even irreverent, and overflowing with love.

Three of this year’s Youth Award recipients, Jijin Jang, Anna Russo, and Jessica Lu collected raffle money and interacted with each table. 

We met Brookline Emergency Food Pantry Executive Director, Rene Feuerman.  Rene has been the perfect follow-up to the great work put in by past director, Jim Margolis.  Her intelligence, hard work, compassion and respect for her Pantry clients are inspiring.  Demand on the Pantry have risen 88% in just the last 4 years.  We need Rene’s leadership now more than ever.

We also met this year’s Roger Grande Social Justice Award recipient, Kate Leslie.  Kate is a towering example of what makes the Brookline school system so great.  She is the kind of dedicated teacher who can change the trajectory of a young person’s life. It should be a comfort to know that while you are working so hard to pay the mortgage and meet your financial obligations during this challenging economic time, your sons and daughters are in the hands of people like Kate Leslie.

Kate picked the raffle winner.  Ironically, it was Rene Feuerman.  Rene plans to re-raffle the items of at the Food Festival, which is part of the Coolidge Corner Arts Festival.

It was perfect end to a near perfect night.  The perfect night will be when we  gathered to celebrate the day we know longer need a Food Pantry.

Lots of laughs were shared, and I admit I sort of like to entertain a room, but sometimes things seem funnier when there is a little tension.  We laughed and smiled and congratulated each other’s dedication and resolve.  To be honest, the laughter grew from tension, which will not fade until our neighbors can sleep without having to wonder where their next meal is coming from.

So now that the party and drive are over until November, keep in mind that some of us still worry about the most basic of needs.  Hunger is not confined to any one season.  Please continue to support the Pantry by making an online donation at FeedBrookline.org or through the donation button at BrooklineHub.com  Please give as much as you are able, then allow yourself to feel like a rock star because you are one. 

Keep your head up when walking through places like Coolidge Corner. One of those faces you see will get their next meal courtesy of you.

Photos from the Feed Brookline Benefit Dinner

Peace.

Harvey Bravman, Publisher 

 

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