The Community Table is growing and relocating

The Community Table welcomes volunteers and students to help prepare for the big move towards the end of the year.

The Community Table, a non-profit organization that was founded in 1999, is a place where all types of people in the community can come and have a good free meal.  In addition to a small staff, volunteers from Jackson County and Western Carolina University help keep this organization up and running.  Volunteer duties include helping preparing food, serving tables and cleaning up.

Since the Community Table has become such a popular organization, it is important to have enough space for community members to come, sit down, and eat.

The amount of people coming to eat at the Community Table is rapidly growing each year.  In 2009, 10,335 meals were served and in 2010 there were 20,393 meals served. Volunteers from Jackson County and Western Carolina University help with preparing food, taking orders, serving and cleaning up.

“We could not do it without the support of our caring neighbors and especially all the fantastic donors and volunteers from WCU,” said Amy Grimes, Executive Director at the Community Table.

A past Community Table volunteer, Gabrial Finnegan, has been hired as the new Kitchen Manager and Volunteer Coordinator.

“He loves the creative freedom and our guests love the food,” said Grimes. “He is best at being able to assimilate the most delicious and nutritious meals from the ever-changing stock we have to work with.”

Finnegan’s most popular dishes include baked whitefish with lemon dill cream sauce, butternut squash bisque, gumbo, and spaghetti.

With the help of the community members and WCU’s Construction Management professor, Bob Ford and his students, the renovations on the new home for the Community Table have begun.

“When I found out that this opportunity was presented to such a great community organization I had to get involved,” said Ford. “In the construction industry, reputations can make or break a company and the more you give back to the community more likely you will get return business from those observing all your good work.”

Ford and his students will be helping with the demolition and renovation of the new location and will be involved until the completion, which is estimated to be around the end of 2012.

The budget for the renovations of the new location is set at $43,000 but they will not know for sure how much is spent until it is completed.

“There will be much more open space to help make the flow of everything easier.  Proper heating and air conditioning will be installed throughout the building to help keep our refrigerator compressors from working overtime and our dry storage food will last longer,” said Grimes. “There will also be three to four times more seating capacity than the 30 seats we have packed together now.”

“As an active community member, I am very excited to see how this new facility will thrive when it is finally functioning,” said Paul Holt, a lawyer in Sylva.

“It is very fortunate we have been able to keep up, though a struggle sometimes,” said Grimes.  “Our annual fundraiser, ‘The Empty Bowl’, will be held in April prior to the Greening up the Mountains activities.”

The Empty Bowl event is open to anyone.  People attending can purchase their tickets for $20 which includes a choice of a hand crafted ceramic bowl, soup, bread, desert and drink.  This event is to help raise money for supplies for the Community Table.

Right now the Community Table is located in downtown Sylva.  The organization is always looking for new volunteers and appreciates every bit of help and or donations.