At a time, when there are crises going on throughout the world a group of people have decided to do something about it.
They understand that they cannot snap their fingers and automatically change the world, but that doesn’t stop them. It is a realisation that every small step together creates a movement greater than oneself and that is how differences are made.
Their efforts start close to home in the neighbourhood where they live but has a ripple effect deeper into the hearts of those who attend their potlucks.
Reminding people of their similarities
Everyone eats, and it often brings people together in a peaceful manner, similar to the first settlers in the United States.
It helps us remember that people are people. By bringing people into a common place where they can meet, friendship blossoms and plans for bettering the community are made.
Through this time of fellowship and warmth, people are encouraged to return on a regular basis to see once strangers who are now friends.
Hamtramck Soup came out of the larger organisation Detroit soup about 3 years ago. Their purpose is to bring the various cultures together for one common goal and that is to make a difference in their community.
They concentrate their efforts on helping small groups and individuals as well as businesses that have a community improvement idea, but lack the resources to bring it to fruition. They have volunteers that sit on the board running a section of the soup.
Because arts and culture bring understanding
The group has a board member that organises this portion. To increase interest, as well as learning, they have someone from the arts perform or display their artwork during the potluck.
This allows for entertainment and culture to collide. It is part of the intrigue that brings community members together. The group has had musicians, artists, and performers who have been a part of it for a long time.
Understanding the arts of other cultures is also a fantastic way to bridge the great divide between nations living together in the same community.
When people have a chance to truly delve into other cultures they can see that they are more similar than unique.
We all have rituals, beliefs and differences, but it is our common threads that hold us together once we are able to meet each other and gain an understanding.
Diversity is at the top of the list
One of the most complicated, yet most important pieces of the soup is diversity. We live in a world where there are people of every race, colour, and creed, to bring them together can be a struggle.
They speak different languages and have different culture norms, but love is what binds us together and why it is a must to unite.
Megan is a board member who has been appointed as diversity chair to bring in everyone not just African American or Caucasian. They have Polish, Asian, Yemenis, and Bosnian that currently attend just to name some.
Everyone is welcome and that is the goal, to bridge the divide and work together. Being the most diverse city neighbourhood it is important.
Because of the differences, it is also one of the biggest challenges according to Megan. It is necessary to be able to translate everything into the different languages so that communication can happen.
She oversees that all of the paperwork is translated and fliers are run in languages like Bengali and Arabic. So that people are able to attend and feel like they are part of something greater than themselves.
Talking to people, in the top offices to see what they can do to help motivate communities to come out of their segregated areas is a huge part of it.
As you can imagine, with all the different cultures it will continue to be a hard thing to accomplish, but the most important one.
Bringing different types of people together is a must. If the cultures of the world were able to interact peacefully, there wouldn’t be the same degree of misunderstanding that there is on this earth today and it starts in your own backyard.
Don’t just read about it get involved
The goal is to raise money so that it can be given back to the community in some respect. There are anywhere from 50 to 100 people that attend each event.
When people attend the dinner not only are they there to listen to music and eat, but to also hear from various individuals, community groups, and even children pitching a community project that needs funding.
Projects must help the community in some way and if they win then they get the money that is donated.
Money is donated when people arrive, and you can only vote on one of the projects if you have made a donation.
Each donation gets a slip. Everyone is allowed to donate at will, meaning some might donate $1 and other may donate $10. It is completely up to the individual making the donation.
That is the money that benefits the winner along with a stipend from the Detroit soup and proceeds from the sale of beverages.
There is no preconceived notion of how much the winner will get prior to the event, but normally the events earn between $500 and $1000.
Then the winner is invited back to the next event. At the next event, they will be presenting how it went to the group in attendance.
This is a great way to increase participation and excite people about the good it is doing in the community. Because the participants each get to pitch their idea at times the people who didn’t win might get lucky.
They say that success is often, right time and place, the soup is no different.
People who pitch might be heard by someone who is interested in helping their project and that is how the waves start rippling through the pond.
One person states an idea and others that agree with it, jump in to assist because they really liked the concept or just plain see a need for it.
Community boards in the back of the room hold questions from both participants and attendees. The events are also a great way for the city to come together and communicate about various projects and needs within the town.
It helps people to stay informed about what is going on in the city of Hamtramck, Michigan. The event is held quarterly in the smaller cities and monthly in the city of Detroit.
Types of community projects that have benefitted from the soup
Because any community group can pitch at the soup often times, kids pitch a need. A traveling soccer team needed to get to and from their matches and had no way of getting back and forth due to lack of resources.
They won and were able to use the funds to help purchase a van. This allowed kids in the community to continue to participate in something that was important to them. Keeping kids off the street is a great benefit for the entire community.
Another local teacher and her class saw a need for a park and used the money they received to better the community that way.
They were able to clean it up and pay to put in equipment. Now it is a place all can go to enjoy. These sort of projects truly enrich the community.
Another time, there was a mechanic named Jeff who had noticed there was no local program giving young men and women the skills they needed to become a mechanic.
He was able to start up a program at the high school level helping teach those interested. His program was even blessed with a car someone donated.
Good things happening all around and they are not all on such large scales even smaller projects happen.
There have been art exhibits funded as well. Soup kitchen’s feeding the needy have been helped as well. You name it if it benefits the community, the group has helped raised the funds to assist.
The soup has served as a place for people to come eat, whether they donate money or not they are never turned away.
In a time when many go without food, this a beautiful sentiment and you never know who they will connect with by being at these events. Perhaps, they too will be helped. It really is all about community.
Volunteers making a difference in their community
Megan is just one of many volunteers working to bring the Hamtramck Soup to the forefront. Like others, she works a full-time job on top of what she does for her community.
There are 12 other soup groups in the area plus the larger one in Detroit proper. The differences they are making in their community are so important. They have done so much more than to assist the select winners.
In addition, they have worked to bring the community as a whole together. They are a prime example of the importance of solidarity in this world.
It is hopeful that more of these will begin to pop up throughout the United States.
Continuing to make a difference by bringing people in the community close to one another binding them for a common cause. In closing, we will leave you with a quote from Megan that is very poignant.
“The people who live in the community have more interest and say in what happens there, and should not just leave it up to whoever has political power.”