Thursday, November 28, 2013

RAK Day 8: Thanks for Giving

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving! We are currently in Seattle, Washington celebrating with Dan's good friends from college and a hodgepodge feast (spinach dip, Spanish quiche, chips and guac, green beans, squash soup...you get the idea) and we are having a wonderful time.

But allow me to backtrack a bit. We stayed with Dan's brother Tim for a few more days after our last blog post and while we were in Spokane with him, Dan and I went out to Waddell's Pub and Grill where an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives was filmed!!!! 
Look at the face of excitement I'm sporting!
I am a huuuuge fan of that show and it is on my bucket list to dine somewhere that Guy has feasted. Our meals were amazing and we also ended up sitting right next to a table where two girls around my age were seated. I couldn't help but overhear their conversation and soon learned that one of the girls had just gone through an extremely difficult break-up and was pretty devastated. Break-ups are always rough, so we had our waitress bring us their check along with our own (RAK #23) so that the girl could have something nice to reflect on and hopefully cause her hard times to be a bit easier.

The next morning, Dan, Tim and I went to a church in Tim's neck of the woods. Tim had been wanting to go, but never got around to it, so their sister Brigid gave him the extra push he needed by donating to our RAK fund with the request that we find some inspiration while attending church with Tim (not so sneaky, Brig). 

The church ended up being Tim's cup of tea and we were able to listen to a wonderful and appropriate lesson: Epic Gratitude. The message that week was that each of us experiences times where we may not have been as thankful as we should because we did not really think about the full impact of what we were learning. It inspired Dan and I to think about all of the occurrences where we may not have aptly thanked someone who taught us a lesson of importance or influenced our lives in one way or another. It also encouraged a soon-to-happen RAK! But more about that later.

After a jog around Spokane and a fantastic breakfast made by Dan, we hit the road and were soon Seattle bound.
A quick prelude to our Seattle adventure: Dan was in a housing co-op while attending Michigan State University and I'm pretty sure that 80% of his favorite housemates now reside in Seattle. It's weird, but at the same time really awesome. We're staying with his good friend Sam this week, who may have the most comfortable couches and most adorably fantastic garden I've experienced in a while. 

Our first night in Seattle included a family style Chinese feast and a stop at a downtown dive bar, The Neighbor Lady. A good chunk of Dan's friends attended and it was as though they were all having a hometown reunion...sans being back in their hometown. 

The next day, Thanksgiving-eve, we woke up bright and early and got to work on our next RAK!

RAK #24: 
We wanted to do something holiday themed and many of our donors were asking us to assist the homeless or others in need, so we drove over to a grocery store and loaded up our cart with two full thanksgiving meals... with all the fixings. We then stopped at the YWCA to complete another Thanksgiving RAK.
Some of the goods we donated. The turkeys are already in the fridge.
RAK #25:
I had done some intense googling for volunteer work in downtown Seattle and found a local food bank that was looking for two extra volunteers to help with food distribution for their pantry on the day before Thanksgiving. We signed up and brought our Thanksgiving meal gifts to the volunteer coordinator to be distributed. We were not the only ones who had dropped off Thanksgiving goods and it was wonderful to see that many families would not go without a Thanksgiving dinner this year.
A glimpse inside of the food pantry.
After a walk through of the space and shadowing one of the permanent volunteers, we were on our own and led a variety of individuals through the food pantry, which was a lot like a grocery store experience. The YWCA food pantry first gives access to registered members of the organization, who are all there for a variety of reasons. They were very polite and so thankful for the opportunity to shop the food pantry. One woman who I was leading through her shopping experience said something that stuck with me: "when you're in a bad place and someone offers you some help or some food for free, you don't get picky- you take what they give you and be so thankful that someone cares enough to send some help your way." I like that. 

After the residents of the YWCA  completed their shopping, the food pantry opened up to the public, many of whom were elderly members of Seattle's Chinese community. That was an experience in itself- the line was never ending and many of the individuals in need did not speak any English, which forced us to be a bit more creative in how we were describing the options available for taking. 

After a few hours, the line died down and we helped the staff tear down the outdoor portion of the food pantry. We said our goodbyes and went over to another of Dan's friend's homes...he is also named Sam. This Sam lives with his long-time girlfriend, Lauren, who was also a member of Dan's co-op in college. We, along with other Sam and another of their friends, Katie, made some homemade veggie pizzas and walked a few blocks to another dive bar downtown where we met up with even more of Dan's college friends (I wasn't kidding- there are so many living here). After a few rounds of darts, pinball and some great conversation, we walked back to the first Sam's home to crash and prepare for an early wake up in the AM.

Which brings us to today. We woke up at 8am to throw on some sweaters and meet up with everyone for breakfast happy hour, where we consumed delicious breakfast sandwiches for only $2.50! We then made our way through the grocery store for some last minute Thanksgiving ingredients, thanked the selfless souls who were working that morning, and went back to Sam's to make our contributions to the pot-luck, which we had been eating for a while now at other Sam and Lauren's home (confused yet?)-- our feast is more of the "graze and nibble at things until you finally realize you are full" type.
Food prep before the feasting
So now we are all gathered in the living room, chatting and drinking mulled wine and reflecting on how thankful we are for excellent company, our supportive and outstanding families and friends and for this life-changing journey we are taking. People continue to ask us how our roadtrip has been and we keep finding ourselves at a loss for the appropriate words to describe what we've been able to experience. To put it simply: doing nice things is a good idea. The best idea. We recommend it to everyone and we would love to hear the ways that you spread your own joy-- shoot me an email (mjameson1590@gmail.com), comment, carrier pigeon, smoke signals or whatever suits your fancy.

We're thankful for the impact that your donations have made for people we have encountered throughout this trip. 

Donations to the RAK Roadtrip can be made here. Thanks for giving!

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