One of the benefits that attracted me to ReadyTalk was the opportunity to volunteer in the community during work hours. ReadyTalk gives each employee up to 20 hours of paid volunteer time per year. It allows us to offer our time at places that are only open during business hours. I recently volunteered at SAME Café, which is open for lunch Monday through Saturday.
I met the owners, Libby and Brad Birky, at a friend's BBQ around the time when they had received funding to open a restaurant. Their idea was that people could pay what they could, and if they had no money, they could help out in the restaurant. I didn’t see Libby or Brad again until last year when Libby spoke at TEDxMileHigh. Inspired by her talk, I thought it would be a great place to get a group of people from work to volunteer for the day. Since then, we have had volunteers helping out at SAME Café on a few occasions, with five volunteers participating each day.
Most of our work is done in the kitchen: prepping the food, cooking, and washing dishes. We wipe down tables and clean the floors at the end of the day. They have a standard menu of salad, soup and pizza. But this year, they were able to renovate their kitchen and hoping to expand their menu selection.
The people we are helping range from college students to the elderly, and from the unemployed to business people. Usually, Brad or Libby greet people that come in and know many of them by name. They want to build a community and part of this is getting to know the people who lunch there. Some who visit need a good, healthy, home cooked meal that they may not be able to get because they don’t have the money. Others come in and donate money to help out the cafe.
It is a great feeling to know we are helping out people who just may be in a rough place in their life right now and need a little assistance until they can get back on their feet.