Jon Bon Jovi's Soul Kitchen
I am so impressed with Dorothea and Jon Bon Jovi's understanding of humanity and their charitable innovation! Their Soul Kitchen is a "pay what you can" restaurant near the Red Bank train station in New Jersey.
(please read "Jon Bon Jovi's charity restaurant opens in NJ" article from Yahoo in it's entirety...the following quotations are from this article)
The restaurant provides gourmet-quality meals to the hungry while enabling them to volunteer on community projects in return without the stigma of visiting a soup kitchen. Paying customers are encouraged to leave whatever they want in the envelopes on each table, where the menus never list a price.
The restaurant is the latest undertaking by the New Jersey rocker's Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, which has built 260 homes for low-income residents in recent years.
"With the economic downturn, one of the things I noticed was that disposable income was one of the first things that went," Bon Jovi told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday before the restaurant's grand opening ceremony. "Dining out, the family going out to a restaurant, mom not having to cook, dad not having to clean up — a lot of memories were made around restaurant tables.
"When I learned that one in six people in this country goes to bed hungry, I thought this was the next phase of the Foundation's work," he said.
It started several years ago when Dorothea Bongiovi (she uses the legal spelling of her husband's name) and Jon started helping out at a food pantry at nearby St. Anthony's Roman Catholic Church. They later moved their focus to the Lunch Break program, which feeds 80 to 120 people a day, dubbing it "The Soul Kitchen."
Bon Jovi, who has a home in next-door Middletown, is adamant about one thing.
"This is not a soup kitchen," he emphasizes. "You can come here with the dignity of linens and silver, and you're served a healthy, nutritious meal. This is not burgers and fries.
"There's no prices on our menu, so if you want to come and you want to make a difference, leave a $20 in the envelope on the table. If you can't afford to eat, you can bus tables, you can wait tables, you can work in the kitchen as a dishwasher or sous chef," he said. "If you say to me, 'I'm not a people person,' I say, 'That's not a problem. We'll take you back to Lunch Break to volunteer with those people. If you don't want to volunteer with that, we'll take you to the FoodBank."
After volunteering at one of those places, a person will be given a certificate good for a meal at The Soul Kitchen.
"If you come in and say, 'I'm hungry,' we'll feed you," Bon Jovi said. "But we're going to need you to do something. It's very important to what we're trying to achieve."
That includes making people feel part of a larger community that cares about them, while still expecting them to contribute to society at large.
"This is not an entitlement thing," Bon Jovi said. "This is about empowering people because you have to earn that gift certificate."
He and others at the restaurant want those who can afford to dine out to patronize the restaurant as well and pay what they consider market prices, or even a bit more than that, to help sustain The Soul Kitchen as a true community resource.
Years ago I wrote about Ted Turner's charitable innovation. Several points about the Bon Jovi's innovation that shouldn't "fly under the radar" of societal consciousness that I would like to highlight:
1) "If you come in and say, 'I'm hungry,' we'll feed you," Bon Jovi said. "But we're going to need you to do something. It's very important to what we're trying to achieve." That includes making people feel part of a larger community that cares about them, while still expecting them to contribute to society at large." This is not an entitlement thing," Bon Jovi said. "This is about empowering people because you have to earn that gift certificate."
2) Plenty of goodness is found within the church. I love the fact that a notable who didn't need the church first recognized and chose to work along side with them to achieve something that has great meaning!
It is important that people be able to maintain their dignity. What we need is a system that is fair and just and lets the chips fall where they may in a democracy that should represent 99% of society. Injustice wars against hope and diminish opportunity of a man that wants to provide for their family by paying their own way. If we had a just society issues such as social justice and entitlements wouldn't be necessary. The Bon Jovi's are onto something essential here, I'd be surprised if they aren't wildly successful!
Worley November 6, 2011 Ex-minister.org
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