Michele Wade spoke about Guest Table, a community dinner held the first Friday of every month, in Stow
  • Michele Wade, speaker
  • Thursday, March 30, is a performance for Rotary by Justin Meyer Jazz Trio at Indian Hill Music in Littleton. Reservations must be made by March 23.
  • We’re ready to serve seniors a hot dogs and more at our annual Red Sox Opening Day lunch event, April 3, at the Stow Council on Aging. Bolton and Lancaster residents are also welcome.
  • We have been asked by the Bolton Lions to help with Breakfast with the Easter Bunny on April 9.
  • The next Repair Café is coming up in May.
  • Acton-Boxborough Rotary club is offering wine, food, and camaraderie on April 27;  50% of all tickets sold by our club comes back to our club treasury.
  • Guest Table Dinner requires volunteers from our Club to help with clean-up duty on June 2.
  • A study at the recent PETS shows that members prefer events over meetings with speakers. We’ll consider this.
  • Rotary’s Million Dollar Dinner has so far raised $925,000 in contributions to donate to the Rotary Foundation. The dinner will be held May 25 at Mechanics Hall, Worcester.
  • Wings & Wheels has a web site (Wingsandwheelsma.com) and a Facebook page, for publicity and updates.
  • RYLA interviews are coming soon, and Bob will need assistance. The weekend RYLA conference is in June, and will include a Reality Fair and a  Meal Packaging event. Volunteers for the conference are also needed.
  • We’ve raised all the club money needed for the international grant to assist the Razia Jan Institute in Afghanistan.
Happy/sad fines:
  • Howard: received a politically-oriented email from a friend; which reminded him how happy he is to be a Rotarian, in a place where good things happen.
  • Mary Ann: happy for the snow, and to have spent a day with her son and grand kids.
  • Laura: glad the snow was not so bad; and happy for the Stop Hunger Now event this weekend; and for kickoffs for Wings & Wheels and for the Reality Fair.
  • Carl: glad to be feeling better.
  • Carol: glad Howard is back; grateful that PETS went well; and happy for the upcoming Rotary Zone meeting.
  • Chris: happy that the conference call in place of the board meeting (due to the snow) went well.
Our speaker was Michele Wade. FPC Guest Table serves a community dinner on the first Friday of each month at First Parish Church of Stow & Acton. Everyone is welcome, in or out of Stow, whether they’re looking for a sense of community, are feeling lonely, are having some financial difficulties, or just want a change of atmosphere. 
Guest Table is open the first Friday of the month to coordinate with the food pantry, which gives their leftovers to Guest Table. The church next door sponsors another dinner once a month, so two dinners a month are offered.  The church provides space and some volunteers, but funding and the functioning are  completely separate.  They started a little over a year ago. They currently serve 75-85 people a month, in mid-winter more—about 100. They serve a full meal. People can’t choose from a menu, but the waitstaff serves everyone and packages leftovers for people to take home.
The dinner is a genuine community dinner—no requirements, it’s open to all. Some are there for the sense of community, some are there for the food, and some check out the church for a variety of reasons. It eliminates the stigma that might otherwise be associated with free dinners. Although at a church, there’s nothing religious associated with the dinner.
Question: Do you know how many are food-insecure? No. It’s impossible to tell, but in general Middlesex County runs 9-10% insecure.  Stow is about that, Bolton a little lower. Both figures are below the state average, and the 15% nationally.
Question: How are you promoting yourselves? We had an article in the paper when we first started, we have a Facebook page, but now we’re self-sustaining. We’re regular on community calendars. But we’re working on publicizing the work to communities outside of Stow.
Question: What kind of food do you serve? It changes, but we start with salad, bread and butter, then the meal tends to skew toward chicken or vegetables—cheaper items. Then there’s some sort of dessert.
Question: How are you funded? A little bit by you, we hope. We applied for money from the Stow Community Chest, which gave money to help us get started and may again give this year. We’ve applied to the Acton-Boxborough United Way. We receive funds from a program at the church., and we get individual donations directly from guests. The food costs about $350 per dinner. Sponsorship by companies might be a possibility for funding. (Our club did make a contribution last year, for start-up costs.)
Question: When our Club volunteers in June, what will we be doing? The job slowest to sign up for is clean-up—gathering the dishes, running the dishwasher, stacking the plates, etc. That runs 6-8 p.m., anyone who comes at 5 pm might also serve the dinner, or just enjoy. Maximum for cleaning up is about 7 people; 15 for the set-up and serving crews. (Anyone serving doesn’t get to eat the dinner.)