Volunteer Profile: How a Remarkable Mother-Daughter Duo Choose to Give Back
When asked why she volunteers at Fork & Spoon Homestyle Kitchen, Jennifer responds without missing a beat. “There’s something about coming to Fork & Spoon that lifts me up. I can be having a really bad day, and I walk in here and interact with the staff, volunteers and people and it creates within me a really positive feeling.”
Jennifer and her daughter, Jessica, have been volunteering at Fork & Spoon for nearly two years. Join us for dinner on any given Monday night and they’ll greet you from behind the host counter with a warm smile and cheerfully take your dinner order that night.
Everyone who comes to Fork & Spoon, be it to enjoy a delicious dinner or volunteer, comes for their own unique reasons. For Jessica, it’s the welcoming environment, the opportunity to meet new people, and the chance to strengthen the relationships she’s developed with individual patrons over her years volunteering.
Says Jessica, Fork & Spoon creates “an atmosphere where you can interact with your community. When I first started coming to eat, I was meeting up with someone because it’s a place you can linger and have a conversation. It’s inviting.” Jessica adds that one of her favorite parts about Fork & Spoon is the staff, who care about all Fork & Spoon diners and invite volunteers to care in turn. “If we want to step aside and have a conversation with a patron, we can. We get to treat people like people. There’s room and time for that here.”
Jennifer agrees that it’s the people that truly make Fork & Spoon remarkable. When asked about her favorite part of volunteering, Jennifer easily responds that it’s the patrons. “I have met and gotten to know some people I would have never crossed paths with.” She recalls a Fork & Spoon diner who was having a pretty rough day a few weeks ago, who on his way out, stopped to give Jennifer a hug and just said, “thanks.”
Jessica and Jennifer are integral to the welcoming, community dynamic Fork & Spoon strives to create every night. Fork & Spoon’s pay what you can model creates a unique dining space, welcoming patrons who choose to pay a portion of the suggested price, pay exactly the cost of the meal, or pay extra to help cover the meal costs of those who cannot contribute. The result is a true community space where all of Bozeman can dine together, regardless of income level or socioeconomic status. Jessica notes the positive impact of having a diverse patronage at Fork & Spoon and appreciates “those who choose to come in and dine at Fork & Spoon instead of eating somewhere else or just donating from afar. [In doing so, they] contribute more than just money to Fork & Spoon.”
Jennifer adds that the food is one of her favorite parts, and she wishes more people she knew would eat at Fork & Spoon and support the community minded restaurant. To introduce new faces to Fork & Spoon, Jennifer invited her church group to join her for dinner one night. After their meal, the pastor said that he and his wife were going to start volunteering and supporting Fork & Spoon more regularly. By bringing in new diners, says Jennifer, “we’re breaking down misconceptions and introducing more people to Fork & Spoon.”