HelpBerkeley: COVID-19

A virtual Thanksgiving community dinner! Post Pics!

We can all have a virtual community dinner together: please send your pictures and wishes here!

Dear friends, members and volunteers of HelpBerkeley-

Yesterday was our largest run ever: we were able to deliver 804 Thanksgiving meals, with 42 drivers in the run, 8 helpline volunteers, 3 pickup managers, 7 workflow dispatchers, 6 ops managers, 5 driver coordinators, and many more volunteers involved. Our last back-up run is right now under way :slight_smile:

Of course, the point of it is not so much the food, as the ritual that surrounds it. Thanksgiving is an important meal to all of us, not because of the food, but because of the associations: friends, family, and the warmth of companionship that also comes with cooking together. Most of us will have Thanksgiving in very small pods, sometimes just by ourselves, and even good Thanksgiving food does not make up for that.

But the point of HelpBerkeley is not only food either. HelpBerkeley represents the community around us all, the hundreds of volunteers, and donors, who care for their neighbors, wish them well, and have happily sacrificed their free time week after week to drive, manage and support the daily runs. None of us here is alone today! What I am trying to say is that HelpBerkeley, beyond food, also represents friends and neighbors who care for their community. Not one person among our members, volunteers and friends should feel alone today, because of this demonstration of community.

So let’s post plenty of pictures and good wishes to each other on this thread, to show that, even though we are physically isolated, we are together! Happy Thanksgiving to all!

You can see the live stream of pictures and wishes, at:

HelpBerkeley Virtual Thanksgiving Community Dinner

Check the thread often, see the new posts, and post your own!

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On Tuesday 11/24, we spend nine hours together generating the workflow for the runs: which driver takes which deliveries, which deliveries need to be delivered when, who can take the early and the late deliveries…

In this picture, seven workflow dispatchers are intently focused on drawing itineraries. The only one laughing is probably not paying attention… (it’s me :slight_smile: ).

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Many thanks to HelpBerkeley. You all are amazing and appreciated, as are the sentiments of this email!

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@MichelThouati It is an amazing program you have put together! It is really impressive. This Thanksgiving one of the things I’m most thankful for is this opportunity to give back to the community.

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This is such a wonderful place and such a wonderful organization. I am so happy to have played a very small part in it. Thank you so much @MichelThouati for putting this together.

I already posted this video diary from my delivery day on the drivers’ thread but here it is again: https://youtu.be/WyKGP4p_Tkc

I will treasure this memory for a long time.

I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving. Most importantly gobble, gobble, GOBBLE!

Thanks @aloebl and @sara for also participating in the video!

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Thank you. Your message was very touching. Four of us are having this meal together on zoom. I’ll try to capture that and post. Hannah

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On 11/25, early morning, the rations are piling up in the kitchen.

Notice the masks and gloves on the kitchen crew. These guys are just amazing, and kind!

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Thank you so much for reaching out to help many isolated people feel connected with a caring group. Your Thanksgiving dinner is perfect to fill hearts and tummies with real goodness.
:heart::heart::heart: I am grateful for this day and for the blessed sharing you have created.

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The key to the meal: turkey and mashed potatoes, in containers, are getting stacked on a cart before going to the large assembly tables.

They smelled delicious already. As we were waiting to drive some of these meals over, those aromas were already putting us in a real Thanksgiving mood. A hungry one :slight_smile:

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Near the assembly tables, enormous stacks of food are waiting to be packaged in togo bags.

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The assembly tables where meals get assembled into togo bags:

They are two large 8 foot tables, where each driver’s load gets assembled by the crew. The crewmember in the front is adding pages of labels for each delivery to the binder, while the crew member in the back, with gloves, is assembling the bags.

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We appreciate it so much! (I am logged in but cannot access the page linked below.)

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It was really hard to take a picture of Chef Joan, because she was always moving from place to place so swiftly that all my pics of her were blurry! I finally got a picture of her here:

On the left, Esfandiar, our inside pickup manager, is leading the loading operation. In the background, Chef Joan, in black, is supervising that the right rations are being issued. The driver, Matthew, is bringing back his delivery load to the car.

The moving part in this picture is that Matthew just told Chef Joan that he went to a school where he was being fed by Chef Joan’s kitchen! Now, a few years later, he is helping drive Thanksgiving meals made by Chef Joan :slight_smile:

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For me food is very important more than gathering. thank you to everyone involved in Help Berkeley for giving me such a delicious vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner!!!

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So sorry, thanks for telling us: we just corrected the link on the post. We will resend it to everyone on email.

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Thank you so much! The three of us will indulge in this delicious looking meal a little later. So very much appreciated. Thanks to all the cooks, assemblers, and deliverers.

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In the meantime, outside, drivers are reviewing their itineraries, on their phones, or in their handouts:

Olivia is looking at her Google map waypoints on her phone. Emi is waiting for a paper handout. Melissa, on the right, our outside pickup manager, is looking through her handouts to give Emi hers.

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Around 11:15am, on 11/25, we discover that the kitchen had to change meal packaging because it could not fit all the food in it. The new packaging does not all fit in the drivers’ boxes :frowning:

We quickly make a few phone calls. Thank G_d we had just purchased 50+ new drivers’ boxes, just in case something happened. Eric has at least 35 that he drives over and adds to Michel’s 15. They are now piled on on the street, near the loading dock. Melissa, Esfandiar and Michel will hand them out to the drivers as they arrive. Now drivers have to take off with 3-6 boxes each :slight_smile:

The new packaging problem has introduced a slight delay. Several drivers are milling around the pickup point waiting for their delivery load: Olivia, Emi, Melissa (our pickup manager outside), Dana’s daughter and Dana.

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I don’t know how you managed all this but we are very grateful and thanks for the photos!

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Watching the images and feeling the profound inspiration of HELP BERKELEY makes me weep from open heartedness> THANKYOU deeply… Yes, I had one of the pumpkin pies with my tea already. Yuuuum. Feel all the kindness you give back to you in reciprocity. Happy memorable thanksgiving. Patricia ( tea lady~)

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