As people took their seats at the One Table community dinner, co-organizer Stacey Wakelin was describing how the Langley event came about.
It was a reaction to negativity, the sense that “people aren’t friendly that crime is increasing, and all of these bad things,” Wakelin told the Langley Advance Times.
“I wanted to be part of something positive,something that benefits the community and I thought, what better way to bring people together than a meal,” Wakelin recounted.
Billed as a “community dinner and conversation,” the event on Saturday night (Feb. 1) drew 68 people to the Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran church in Willoughby, which donated the space.
It began with a prayer of gratitude for friends.
Langley City mayor van den Broek, along with City councillors Nathan Pachal and Rudy Storteboom, and Langley MLA Mary Polak were among the people who paid $5 for an opportunity to share a meal, sitting with dozens of other diners at long tables in the church meeting hall.
Also present was event co-organizer Amanda Smith, with LEPS and the Langley Poverty Reduction task force.
Guests were asked to purchase an extra ticket and invite a neighbour, friend or family member who could use an evening of connection and community.
Those who couldn’t afford the $5 were able to make alternate arrangements.
As diners lined up to fill their plates with lasagna, salads, bread and dessert, prepared by volunteers and memebrs of the church congregation, musician Jana Seale performed, and artist Freda Lombard of Zealous Art was overseeing two collaborative paintings for diners of all ages to contribute, a few brush strokes at a time.
It marked the first time the dinner has been held in Willoughby.
“They have been predominately in Murrayville [up till now],” Wakelin noted.
“Our goal is to move throughout the Township,” she added, with plans to hold the next one in Brookswood.
READ MORE: Dinner is served
One Table is partnering with the Langley poverty task force, Fraser Health Authority, and Meals on wheels, Wakelin said.
“They’re actually having conversations with people at our dinners, and finding out what the needs are in the community.”
Down the road, they would like to create a neighbourhood house or community hub.
“That’s the group’s ultimate goal, is to really have a space in this community where all of those community partnerships can come under one roof,” Wakelin said.
A Facebook page was in the works for future events, searchable as “One Table Langley.”
More photos from the event can be viewed online.