Karma Kitchen DC Celebrates 10 Years!
Posted by Krishna Desar on Mar 5, 2019
We just had our 10 year anniversary of Karma Kitchen DC!
It was truly a celebration of ten years of generosity, kindness, community. When we started the Karma Kitchen DC in February 2009, we had only planned for three weeks, and were not sure if we will be able to sustain beyond. But week after week, month after month, it continued to grow, and always with the same spirit.
Karma Kitchen DC has grown in its own spirit. Deeply grateful to the guests and volunteers who fueled it, and Himalayan Heritage Restaurant for hosting us generously for last six years.
As our veteran volunteer, Vinay, shared during closing circle on Sunday, “I have seen so many changes in my personal life, in my friends and family members' lives, but the ambiance and spirit of Karma kitchen DC is still the same as it was 10 years ago when it started."
In that spirit, the day was filled with so many touches of love. We had excited children, ranging from 7-10 years of age, offering people who walked in the door small gift boxes of hearts wrapped with love. Guest were just blown away with the gesture of the kids and brings the biggest smile ever.
The wide-ranging perspectives of such an intergenerational crowd filled the room with a colorful vibrancy. Diverse guests ranged in age from 7 to 80 years old. A 10-year-old was so excited to play her violin, which she learned in school, for everyone. Two volunteers, one from Nepal and from the U.S., together sang the famous Nepali song “Phool ko Aankama - Phoolai Sansar," meaning: "In the eyes of a flower, the whole world is a flower.”
After hearing the song, one guest commented: “Karma Kitchen is truly a garden of beautiful flowers blooming."
Since it was Sunday, many guests walked into Karma Kitchen straight from their church service and said, "We could not have imagined any better place to go for lunch after the church service. It is such a blessing to experience what wisdom traditions preach, and feel love manifested in action here in Karma Kitchen."
One new volunteer, Koko, described her experience: “I am truly touched by the atmosphere here. I noticed here that a person can walk in with any mentality, and after a spending a short period of time in this environment, he or she is automatically ignited to say something good and do something good.” Her reflection reminded me the story of food thief at Karma Kitchen Berkeley. :)
Another new volunteer, Abeir, who was very experienced in serving at a regular restaurant, but was a first-time Karma Kitchen volunteer, shared: “In a regular restaurant, as soon as you walk inside the door, there is so much expectation from customers for being everything to be perfect and as he/she desires. Even a small failure of fulfilling their expectation can ruin their whole experience and cause them to walk out with frowning faces. But here, I see guests really do come without any expectation, and from that agendaless space, everything starts from there and is received as a blessing."
Another volunteer, Nilima, who just arrived in the country a few months ago in a fellowship program, says finding Karma Kitchen was like finding home. “Karma Kitchen for me is finding the whole concept of community, coming together as a community to serve others and connect to others. I come to Karma Kitchen because I enjoy meeting like-minded people who want to serve and connect to others. It’s so great to connect to people who come to eat at Karma Kitchen. It feels even better when we receive their feedback and share how great was their experience at the Karma Kitchen. The feeling is mutual for volunteers who are serving and for people who come here to eat," she described.
We had sent out few questions to previous guests and volunteers last month. Of the replies we received back, but this one truly touched my heart:
Was your first Karma Kitchen experience as a guest or volunteer?
While my first experience was as a volunteer, when Nimo came while I volunteered to help but I was able to be a guest, I’m so glad I was a guest. I loved volunteering more but I liked being a guest so I understand what it was like to be on the receiving end and to be able to donate generously.
What was your most favorite memory of Karma Kitchen?
The beauty of how it comes together, volunteers come, look for tasks are assigned roles, and chip in. The couple of times i volunteered the willingness of the group to help was amazing and I really was grateful, and the cook, who was so gentle. He was organizing us that day. The kitchen was so hot. I remember feeling for the dishwashers and prep group but they were laughing when I went downstairs on a break.
Any small acts of kindness you have done that you would like to share?
I picked up a couple of smile cards and used them and then ... I have participated in the "you matter" campaigns. Donated and funded as well.
Any updates on your life in general that you would like to share?
I came to learn, I didn’t understand what random acts of kindness meant... I didn’t understand how people just gave unconditionally, nothing expected in return. Karma Kitchen was instrumental in my growth and just appealed to my service side but understanding something I’d never been exposed to and it changed me forever. Thank you for keeping this going for 10 years.
These 10 years have been truly years of blessings for me, personally. In that time, I've seen my 9-year-old daughter soak in the spirit of Karma Kitchen, and seeing her excitement to be in this space fuels my energy.
I am deeply indebted to the whole ServiceSpace community and the Karma Kitchen community, here in DC and all around the world, who have always supported and lifted me in this journey of service. I want to send biggest love and hugs to you, wherever and whatever state of life you are in.