guest post by Nate Mundell
Saturday night I found myself in an open air barn in Kathleen. Hauling ice over from a neighbor, setting up a projector and laptop with a friend, invading our other friend’s house and yard, getting ready to welcome 120 more friends and strangers to an important dinner party.
My wife Ida had an idea that she shared with her best friend Kim. “What if we host a dinner/fundraiser to benefit Syrian Refugees?” Ida and Kim always have ideas and they always follow through.
What started as an idea from Ida and Kim turned into a whole community coming together for one of most important gatherings I have been a part of. A Supper for Syrian Refugees. My wife has been deeply moved and even more deeply troubled by the refugee crisis. As she says “may our tears always lead to action”, and this was our action. An open invite supper.
It would be easy to praise my wife and act like she carried this whole event out with no trouble, but she would be mad if I didn’t tell the truth and the greater story. That is the story of the power of community.
Ida and Kim prayed and planned. A small idea turned into something larger than our two families could pull off. Isn’t that where God shows up? When we are over our heads. That is also where community came in.
Steve and Jacki Caruthers, Kim’s parents, opened their home, barn, and yard for this event. We could have easily hosted it at a church or community center but these hospitable friends opened their doors. This setting made the event comfortable for many different people to attend. Not everyone will walk into a strange church. There’s something special about being in a home (or barn).
Kari Clever, along with her husband Andrew, Kim, and Jacki tackled the cooking. Kari is a boss in the kitchen and has lived in the Middle East. She, with the help of her team, prepared an authentic Middle Eastern meal for our supper guests. This was a labor of love that lasted all weekened. There were zero short-cuts taken.
Local artists came out to lend their support in form of live art to be auctioned for the fundraiser. My wife can be quoted saying “art can be one of the greatest forms of advocacy” and it certainly was at this event. Josh Bump Galletta, Elizabeth Hults, and Tara Campbell joined us around the barn to create live art that was auctioned off at the end of the night. They did not ask for pay. They gave every penny of what their art sold for back to refugee aid.
Jeff Hanshaw, Kim’s husband, helped set up the sound and lights. It’s nice to have a musician friend. Another friend, Jennifer Cook set up and decorated the spaces at the event. Alyssa Yoder, Jack and Rachel Plating, Stacey McCastlain, and Savannah and Ashtyn Plunkett served our 120 guests. They just jumped right in.
We didn’t have real press for this, but word of mouth travels fast and so does a Facebook invite. Many friends shared the invite and invited their own friends. They helped us reach more people, which helped us all to reach out to more refugees.
Local businesses also joined in. Concord Coffee donated the coffee and fixings. Wish Vintage Rentals provided the chairs and other key decorating pieces. Poor Richard’s Print Shop printed everything we needed for the event. A Kind Place helped, too.
One of the highlights of the night was guest speaker and new friend Salma Nawlo. Salma was born in Syria. She offered a perspective that none of us could. She was an answer to prayer for this event. We were all honored that she would come and share so bravely.
Ida and Kim facilitated a meaningful evening and because of everyone listed above and all 120 people in attendance $4530.28 was raised for refugee aid. Yes. I said over 4 thousand dollars, all from a “supper” hosted in a barn in Kathleen. Every penny raised is going to refugee aid. We are supporting the work of Samaritan’s Purse, World Relief, Baptist Global Response, One Life Kids and Save the Children.
$4,000 might seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the enormity of the refugee crisis, but what if we all made a drop? Think of how it would add up. Think of the faces on the other side of the headlines (or lack of honest headlines) and let’s do more.
A Supper for Syrian Refugees was more than a fundraising event for refugees. It was also a night that showed the power of community.