When the COVID lockdown happened in March, we worried about what might happen to our newly launched Open Table program, the volunteer teams already involved, and the moms receiving invaluable support. We should have known not to worry because our Open Table volunteers have heroically stepped up to meet the needs and challenges during this difficult time.
Even before the pandemic hit moms receiving services from Mountain Home were living on the edge. Since then, job loss, difficulty finding childcare, and housing shortages left many of these moms in even more precarious positions. In the face of these challenges, the social support network that Open Table builds has become so much more important. So, tables continued to meet over zoom and found a way to make it work.
One mom was able to lean on her Open Table for emergency childcare, another had help with a meal train when she had her baby, and another got assistance navigating the unemployment system when her hours were cut We are so grateful for our committed volunteers, who stuck by the moms they were supporting during this trying time, providing much-needed logistical support, encouragement, and friendship.
In this time of social distance, volunteers have found Open Table a rewarding and personally supportive experience as well, as Daci, a current Table member shares:
“For me, Open Table is a weekly meeting of people committed to loving and supporting not only the friend but all the table members. I get to see my new friends every week and be a part of guiding a beautiful soul along the way. We laugh and cry and share and learn. It’s wonderful and a life changing experience!”
We can’t wait with our next table training starting in October!
If you aren’t already familiar with the Open Table program, you can learn more here. The national Open Table model helps individuals experiencing poverty and social isolation connect with community resources and develop a network of social support. Each young mom served has a “table” of 6-8 volunteers who meet with them weekly as a group over the course of one year. They are also encouraged to socialize outside of meetings – having dinner together, babysitting kids, etc. This year of service helps young moms advance their life goals and creates the ideal conditions for forming natural, lasting relationships. During the pandemic, tables have been meeting in person when it’s safe and over Zoom when necessary.
We currently have several Open Table volunteer positions open for another round of training starting this October. We would also love to connect with individuals interested in joining this next session and/or future tables. If you would like to learn more about this powerful model, the first step is to contact Erin Scoles, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 406-546-7358 to set up a one-on-one conversation.