Open Table

Open Table is an organization promoting a process, also called Open Table, in which 10-12 people come together with a person or family struggling to emerge from poverty to assist them to return permanently to full, productive lives in a community.

The idea is for the volunteers to bring their own skills and talents, their life experiences, and their social and contact networks to the Table, for use by the sister or brother in poverty to take the final steps out of hardship. It is expected that the process may take a year, though sometimes less.

The Open Table organization began in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2005, and is spreading rapidly, becoming a movement. Marin County is the first location in California to start tables. Our table consists of three members each from St. Anselm’s Catholic and St. John’s Episcopal churches in Ross, along with four people from our own congregation.

We began working with our sister, Randi, at the end of October, 2011, and have been meeting with her weekly since. She is a woman in her forties, a single mother of nine year old twin boys, whose custody she shares with her parents. She is emerging from more than ten years of major life struggles, the most recent of which is an unresolved medical condition, possibly permanent, that makes work impossible currently. She is a vigorous, highly motivated, upbeat person with life skills that make permanent elimination of her poverty seem quite achievable.

Volunteers from our congregation are Sharon Jackson, hmmsjj@aol.com, Bill Permar, bpermar@earthlik.net, Royce Truex, truex@pacbell.net, and Lucia van Diepen, a seminary student in Berkeley, lav7@humboldt.edu. Contact any one of them if you would like an update on the work of this table, more information about Open Table generally, or have any interest in participating now or in the future.