Thursday, September 29, 2011

Friendship Banquet

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’m overdue to write about the Friendship Banquet.
Every Tuesday at 4:00 (excluding the first Tuesday of each month) the Friendship Banquet serves a meal that really does feel friendly. Nice table cloths and cloth napkins on round tables that seat eight or ten. Real plates and glasses. A fresh cooked meal served in four courses to each of fifty or so guests at the tables in St. Mark’s social hall. Each person greeted warmly at the door. Everyone who has a reservation is also living with HIV and living on the margins.
The banquet began in 1991 but suffered a hiatus between 2005 and 2010. That’s when Phillip stepped in to revive it. He has been passionate ever since about making the banquet a success; organizing volunteers, doing the shopping and cooking when there is no group to cover the meal, and, recently, exploring funding possibilities. He says, “Our guests are people suffering from HIV and their families who are living in difficult financial situations. Each Tuesday at 4pm we provide a fresh cooked meal served restaurant style to about 50 people on average . . . .Our guests spend their time waiting at the doctor’s office, the hospital, GA or Social Security offices, the Food Bank, or on the local bus system. The Friendship Banquet provides a time for our guests to be waited upon by our volunteers in a safe, supportive and loving atmosphere, a true change in routine.”
Many different churches and groups take turns on different Tuesdays to provide the food and prepare and serve the meal. Phillip, who is in charge of the Banquet, is there to guide groups in the meal preparation and serving. The regular crew handles set up and takes care of the dishes afterward so the group providing the food is usually only there for an hour or two of prep and then about an hour of serving.
We have just a few slots without hosts coming up between now and the end of the year: October 11th, November 8th and December 19th. Would your church or group would enjoy helping Phillip prepare and host this wonderful dinner? If so, you can contact him at or 425-673-8088.

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