Editor’s note: This is the one of several letters we received about 12 Baskets Cafe from students at Francine Delany New School for Children before schools shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Also, although 12 Baskets’ community space is closed for now, the organization is distributing takeout meals at its Haywood Road site.
As a child, I’m often reminded how important it is to share. We are told to share our toys, share our candy, even our lunches. Our family says when we share, it’s a form of love. As we get older, the message changes. Adults tell us that sharing with adults we don’t know is a bad thing. We should stay away from strangers and keep our distance. We are taught to make assumptions that people who are homeless are needy or dangerous.
Thankfully, there is 12 Baskets, a place that knows what it means to share with one’s community. At 12 Baskets, people from all walks of life come to share food and enjoy each other’s company. When I visit, I feel loved, cared for and like I have another family.
At 12 Baskets, my class and I met people that we wouldn’t normally meet. We met people who are judged for experiences that mostly happen when they experience bad days, and all of us have our bad days.
Not too long ago, I met a person at 12 Baskets who is suffering from depression. He told me he lost his mother, just like I did. I got to connect with him in ways I haven’t done in years, sharing our struggles, how we feel and our differences. That benefited both of us. We shared a meal, shared conversation and shared our life stories. Because of this, we both felt seen. We shared our human dignity.
I have heard criticism of 12 Baskets. People make false assumptions and claim that 12 Baskets increases theft, drug use and homelessness. However, this is not true. 12 Baskets is an inviting place where people can connect with one another, feel seen and get a warm meal in their belly. It’s a place where sharing continues and adults practice what they preach.
Student, Francine Delany New School for Children