Over the past year, we have been thinking about what it means to be a community center. For us, we view ‘community’ as more than a group of people living in the same neighborhood. We see community as an integrated network of hearts and souls ready to step up when times are hard. Moreover, when times are good, a community can share, warmly and authentically, the unique energy force each one of us has to offer. These moments are often unpredictable, however. The beauty of being a part of a community lies in knowing that someone is there to give you a hand when the road gets bumpy.
The Little Free Pantry is heading into its tenth month of operations. What began as a homely bookshelf under the Grand Hall Staircase is now a colorful hub for generosity and relief in the heart of the New Orleans Healing Center. The LFP is a welcoming and non-judgmental place for community members to donate food items, toiletries, childcare products, and the like, which are available to be taken by anyone who needs them. The system is set up to allow community members autonomy in sharing their surplus or unused items with others. On the flip-side, other community members have the freedom to take what serves their immediate need. The pantry does not discriminate against anyone. There are no set roles. We hope to create a bond with the community, so individuals do not feel unsupported when money is tight.
Apart from the generosity of our in-house donations, we have been overwhelmed by the contributions from larger groups and organizations in the New Orleans community. Partnering with the Greater Little Free Pantry group of New Orleans has been a special advancement. We have learned so much from the Algiers Pantry and are incredibly excited to continue this partnership in the future. Captain Black, our beloved head of security, has been spearheading the LFP movement with weekly social media outreach and wildfire word of mouth initiatives. The Tulane Rugby Team has been hosting food drives at games and events. Regional businesses and organizations, such as the Voodoo Spiritual Temple, have been “stocking the pantry for a day” through monetary donations. Lastly, the St. Roch Neighborhood Association raised hundreds of dollars, which have gone directly into contributions for the pantry.
2019 opened a new chapter for the Little Free Pantry as rooting, and rising have supported our community engagement! Within the Center, Wild Lotus Yoga hosted a donation box for the month of March. Outside the Center, the Church of Yoga filled up a healthy bin of donations for our community members. We certainly feel the momentum of generosity from our yogic partners and are humbled by the positive vibrations reverberating through our community. We are feeling the momentum of benevolence and cannot wait to see what the rest of the year has in store!