Ann Arborite Paula Dana
In a job with so many variables and so many personalities, Dana says, "patience is a virtue--it must be prayed for daily." But, she emphasizes, the volunteers are "the best, because they all want to be here, and they come ready to work."
Despite the economic upturn, the Community Kitchen saw its highest numbers ever in January, serving 8,467 guests. That's up fifteen percent from the past couple years, and the kitchen is likely to serve its one millionth plate of food sometime in early 2014. "We do not know for sure but we attribute the spike to the cold and harsh winter as well as our suspicion that the economic upturn is not 'trickling' down to those we serve," Eileen Spring emails. "Even people who have jobs now are often under employed working for low wages ... with no benefits while food costs continue to rise."
Statistics aside, Dana prefers to focus on the faces of the guests--some of whom are the same as when she started here a decade ago. "That could so easily be us walking through those doors," she says, "or our family members."
[Originally published in April, 2013.]