Stories Submitted by Volunteers
Every week, volunteers come together to create an experiment in generosity. It moves some to tears, it inspires many to pay-it-forward in beautiful ways, it silently shifts the spirit of just about everyone. Below are some of the stories that people have shared, and we invite you to share your story as well.
We invite you to subtmit your stories here, particularly as we launch this repository just this week!
Aug 21, 2013: Berkeley Returns (with a wow!)
Karma Kitchen Berkeley returned with a bang, with guests from all around the bay-area and some serendipitious guests from other countries as well! Keith and Praveen rallied the troops, while Lalita, Cat and Ayako built up the ambiance, and a full crew of volunteer helped serve over 100 guests.
After a full day of giving unconditionally, busing tables for guests, Pranav noted: "I know I'm young, but it was the best day of my life."
What stole the show, though, was a surprise wedding proposal! Lots of cheers, songs, red roses for random guests, and smiles all around. The full story is quite amazing actually.
And we piloted a new idea as well. Prior to the launch, we asked guest to see if they wanted to stay connected after the event. Over 80 folks responded by saying yes, so we launched five mini events to deepen service ties amongst the KK community.
- Fruita Gift: Join a one-of-a-kind community in Oakland that grows, gleans and gifts fresh, organic produce to children and families living in challenging environments.
- Green Gulch with Grace: Participate in a circle of sharing with an incredible wounded healer, who is a lifetime student of Zen, a celebrated AIDs physician, and survivor of a devastating accident that left her wheelchair bound but with a spirit that's gloriously unchained.
- Hear The Homeless: Join a group of volunteers to pay-forward the blessings of love and nourishment to underserved communities at a local soup kitchen, and to simply share presence and stories with people who are all often too easily ignored or avoided.
- Eye of the Whale: Join a mini-expedition to the beautiful setting of Monterey to meet with a photographer who has dedicated himself to capturing life-size images of whales, and connecting humans to the wonder, mystery and kinship we have with these beautiful, extraordinary creatures of the ocean.Each of these grassroots events will be led and coordinated by a KK volunteer. The hope is that these events will help foster deeper community and interconnection while also giving people opportunities to deepen their values, practice small acts of service, and participate in wisdom circles.
--Keith on Aug 21, 2013
Jul 25, 2013: Berkeley is Set to Resume!
As you might've heard, Karma Kitchen Berkeley is returning this Sunday!
Same restaurant, same time. Taste of Himalayas, 11AM on Sunday. And the same exuberant space of generosity, paying-it-forward, and connected-ness -- that has now spread to a dozen cities from Japan to India. This 2-minute video is a good reminder of our space:
In this iteration, we are starting out with once/month but are trying out some more experiments on building deeper ties amongst KK guests. In particular, if you're planning on coming, please RSVP here and we hope to creatively connect those people in smaller groups before the next Karma Kitchen in August.
We're all super excited, have a few surprises set-up for opening day, and are looking forward to seeing you.
--Praveen on Jul 25, 2013
Jul 10, 2013: June of Abundance at Karma Kitchen DC!
Some comments from guests who felt inspired after Karma Kitchen at Himalayan Heritage on 06/30/2013:
"The smallest and simplest of gestures, such as a free meal, have the ability to inspire in the greatest of ways. Thanks for inspiring me" - A quote from one of the first time guests at Karma Kitchen
"This was WONDERFUL. Met new friends, ate tasty food... We will be paying it forward today, next month, and beyond." - From a group of friends who totally enjoyed their experience, creating ripple effects of the paying it forward principle.
The June edition of Karma marked another milestone in Karma Kitchen's historic journey. A journey of moving, from Transaction to Trust, from Isolation to Community, and most importantly from Scarcity to Abundance.
The day's theme was Abundance, and we could witness it right from the moment our first set of volunteers set foot at Himalayan Heritage, all the way till the last person left the premise after a satisfying day of bringing kindness and cheer to our guests of the day. Some of the first time volunteers understood, absorbed, and radiated the love that Karma Kitchen represents - The kind of love whose abundance grows with more distribution of it. All volunteers not just had a spring in their strides, but also brought their smiles to guests by their warm greetings and service. In addition, they were also willing to step into each other's roles that helped set a gracious tone.
We served about 74 guests. It was very inspiring to see some volunteers who drove all the way from NJ, and Baltimore, keeping their enthusiasm the whole time.
KK DC has been really great place to meet like-minded people, which has been more evident by the happy faces when they meet either a guest or co-volunteers who share the same interest. Like one of the new volunteers Sarah, who had been looking for some food sharing community finds our veteran volunteer Aakruti who has started a Dinner swap group.
In the theme of Abundance it was really great to see how abundance is created in a space like Karma Kitchen. As one volunteer commented, she was amazed how guests were served abundantly and nobody returned without feeling full, physically and spiritually.
--Arvind on Jul 10, 2013
Jul 1, 2013: Karma Kitchen's No Check Policy
[Originally published at In The Capital.]
Imagine a restaurant where there's a no check policy and in its place is an invitation to pay it forward for those that dine after you. Though strangers in line, you're asked to give a contribution as a gift to the person waiting behind you to compensate for their meal. That's what Karma Kitchen is all about, the serving of meals through the generosity of others.
The last Sunday of each month, Karma Kitchen opens up its doors form 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. for those who reside in the D.C. area. While on the outside it appears to be the traditional Himalayan Heritage Restaurant we've all grown accustomed to walking by in Adams Morgan, once you enter you'll find one of the most heartwarming depictions of pure goodness in the District. Smiles, good food, kindred spirits, Karma Kitchen provides for an atmosphere you can't help but want to be around at all times.
Meals at Karma Kitchen are cooked and served by people who believe in the pay it forward ideology. This selflessness exhibited by both servers and consumers "helps to create a future that moves from transaction to trust, from self-oriented isolation to shared commitment, and from fear of scarcity to celebration of abundance." In a city that perpetuates a politically headstrong personality, Karma Kitchen is a welcome breath of fresh air, an initiative that grounds you in a District known for its high-strung drama.
Krishna Desar, one of the co-founders of Karma Kitchen in DC put it best:
"Karma Kitchen is about reminding us that we can come from a space of abundance which cannot be counted by the number of dollars in our pocket, but can only be felt from the warmth in our heart."
Each month brings a new set of guests and volunteers to the table, a unique group of individuals who make the Karma Kitchen experience unforgettable every time. It has already supplied 36,850 meals since it first launched on March 31, 2007 in Berkeley, California and will continue to grow as a self-driven charity-like restaurant for years to come.
With tomorrow, June 30, marking the last Sunday of the month, Karma Kitchen is due to set up shop once again for lunch. I'm going with a couple of my friends, and I advise you to do so as well. If not for the food or to support the mission, then to get yourself out of your comfort zone to realize that there's more to D.C. than the suits and the never ending work days. We too can be a part of a movement dedicated to inspire the spirit of service in others.
Hope to see you there!
--Molly Greenberg on Jul 1, 2013
Aug 18, 2012: Karma Kitchen 2 in Tokyo
Earlier in August, we just hosted our second Karma Kitchen. We decided to rotate locations, so more people get the benefit of understanding the ideals of a gift economy. This time, it was hosted by a cooking studio, who had originally offered desserts for our first Karma Kitchen, and really wanted to try it out at their restaurant. It was macrobiotic studio, so it was a vegetarian meal; it was a small space with only 15 seats -- but we were still able to serve 52 meals!! Just like our first Karma Kitchen, we received twice the money they normally would've received. We tried many experiments like the ON-musubi cards, and it was all very successful, and a very uplifting experience for our local team too. The restaurant is hoping to do it again very soon. Here's a video of the restaurant owner herself ...
--Yuka on Aug 18, 2012
Jun 1, 2012: First Karma Kitchen in Tokyo!
We had our first Karma Kitchen in Tokyo in May and it was amaaaaaazing!!! Everyone enjoyed it so much and we have lots of feedbacks and intention to do more. Kazuwo, our team member, does film documentary, so a proper video will be coming but this is just something I had put together to share at the retreat and thought I'd share on the feed too.
--Yuka on Jun 1, 2012
May 24, 2012: Oranges Have Juices in Them :-))
My gratitude to many beautiful souls who came together in visible and invisible ways to make May - Karma Kitchen a vegan, nature friendly in every way possible. The planning started a few weeks back shopping for organic ingredients, looking for a commercial baking place and staying committed to values that we all hold very dear that is to make Karma Kitchen a healthy place for all.
A day earlier to Karma Kitchen last weekend Sandy, Prakash, Ann and Markus all came together to bake the vegan banana-walnut muffin with was showered with their love, mindfulness and joy to feed the guests.
Karma Kitchen was bustling with people by 2pm, engaging in beautiful mindful discussions around nature, composting, planting, community building, honeybees, pets and kids. When asked what would you like to drink, a 3 year old kid who was really mindful of the gift of fruits specially oranges said, he does not need anything to drink as oranges are full of juices, talk about mindfulness:-))
Others said they totally felt home and felt they were visiting friends and family. One liked the muffins so much that she decided to gift it forward to some more friends who were visiting her in the evening. We were also blessed to have a 3-legged visitor Tiger, and it felt like circle of life is perfect as it is.
We had visitors from our own community; Sunnyvale, Fremont, Foster city and we specially thank each and everyone of you to come out on a beautiful afternoon to support Karma Kitchen. More in pictures here.
--Shruti Prakash on May 24, 2012
Apr 16, 2012: Karma Kitchen Launches in Hayward!
On the opening day of Karma Kitchen Hayward, we had lots of beautiful experiences, stories, ripples & community connections. The volunteer spent the full day sending out unconditional love & respect to all. :)
After couple months of planning, we finally arrived at the launch of KK in the heart of the bay! It was a beautiful Sunday, a sunny day after a long week of stormy weather with lightning and thunder, and perhaps it was nature's way of expressing its joy for our humble beginnings.
Snappy's Cafe, where we host KK-Hayward, is a small warm cozy place in the downtown Hayward. As soon as we entered the cafe, we all rolled up our sleeves and got to work rearranging the table layout, setting up a gift table, write the menu on the board, and tending to the many small details. And we're very grateful to KK-Berkeley for their unconditional support, guidance, everything else. :)
We had a very natural flow of mostly local people in the cafe. Everyone who came in the doors yesterday were filled with positive energy; it almost felt like a marriage hall in India :) where everyone was excited about the new beginnings and making sure everyone felt at home! A teacher came in with her mom and aunt, and they were so blown away that they plan to come every month! She also wants to bring all her students to experience it! Several people expressed interest in volunteering. One person commented, "This was absolutely necessary in East Hayward, which doesn't have a good image due to many community challenges." Someone else felt like it was a historical event that "I simply couldn't miss!" The anonymous gifts on the gift table really touched a lot of people, and they all understood the pay-it-forward idea too to keep the inspiration rippling.
For this week, our menu was quite simple -- some tea, muffins and organic oranges that Prakash had generously gleaned from the neighborhood! Soon, we hope to augment it with other items that we can cook in a commercial kitchen nearby, but ultimately, when love is main entre, the rest of the food feels like a side dish. :)
By 5PM, we closed with a circle of sharing around our intention for the experiment, as everyone spoke about values like trust, intention, support, community, abundance, family, courage, impact -- and gratitude for the cafe for being open-minded enough to try out something as crazy as this! Initially employees were little hesitant to join the begining circle but by the end, we could clearly see the transformation that had already happened as they joined the closing circle with their smiles and gratitude.
It was such a beautiful feeling that we all walked out with. No words can quite capture that feeling -- but here's a photos that might help :) ...
Hope to see everyone next month at KK-Hayward!
--Shruti on Apr 16, 2012
Mar 2, 2012: An Uplifting Day With Visiting Volunteers
Thanks for a beautiful Karma Kitchen last Sunday! As Emmanuel summed it up, it was uplifting not only on the surface and also elevating at a subtle level.Our day started with our own reflections, with Arthur's story of reaching out to a homeless person or Erik's insights of not giving up or Cynthia's "I'm ready to get started now!" excitement. Then we all split up into teams and got oriented. Yuka was visiting all the way from Japan and Bela from DC! As Shreya gracefully handled the hot-seat,Guri, Hannah and Varsha plated up a storm for all 138 guests! Lauren not only offered up them sweet desserts but perhaps the most artful "theme of the day" (ever!), while Amy was zipping from the front to back. And in perhaps the most awesome testimony to Andrew and Erik's dishwashing duo, Juan never even had to help them! Although we had never worked together as team, we came together after a mere 15 minutes of orientation -- not just to serve food, but serve up generosity.Great work, everyone! And thank you.In reflecting back to our shared time together, I remember all those little moments of joy that we collectively put in motion. A coffee shop owner came to dine at KK because one of her customers had told about the gift-economy and she had to see it to believe it. :) Now, she is keen on doing something similar at Snappy's Cafe in Hayward. A couple struck up a conversation with an elder next to them, and ended up leaving $20 to tag him with books that he loved to read. A completely skeptical guest was drawn in by the "vibe" and by the end, she just couldn't stop raving about it. We tagged people with little wisdom-filled gifts, Varsha's hand-made earings, and sometimes just a genuine smile. So many people who didn't know each other shared a table with "strangers" and ended up creating rich friendships. The whole restaurant got together to sing a birthday song for Yuka, and one of the guests even shared a gift and offered up some spoken word poetry. The whole ambiance was filled with a sense of electric joy. Just like all of us, many others signed up to volunteers -- and were happily elated when we told them that we typically have a several-week waitlist to volunteer. :) Generosity begets more generosity.On the oustide, an oversized fellow named Ben was smoking and few seniors were not happy with the second-hand smoke; while we had no legal ground to ask Ben to stop smoking, I appealed to his empathy and requested him to move farther away. He hesitantly agreed. While they waited an hour for their table of six, we offered them some "raw, vegan, organic" coconut-macroons that were gifted to us by a woman in Colorado; they were very touched by it. As they got seated, felt the ambiance and engaged in some conversation, they warmed up more and more to the spirit of Karma Kitchen. At one point, Ben spontaneously got up from his seat and just enveloped me in a giant sized hug. "I love you, man," he said. It wasn't about me but more the space that we had all co-created; and so on behalf our posse, I replied back: "Love you too, buddy". He was about to step outside for another smoke, and I told him, "You know, my friend, your lungs aren't going to be lovin' you so much if you keep smokin'. How 'bout you not smoke this one time, in the spirit of generosity to your own self?" He smiled. Others on the table vocally agreed. And he gave in, with a big smile.One small act, one invisible friendship, one genuine smile at a time, we change ourselves and the world around us. Thank you.
--MD and Arthur on Mar 2, 2012
Feb 21, 2012: An Artful Sunday
Thank you for a joyous time of service, last Sunday at Karma Kitchen!We served 152 guests and spread lots of ripples of generosity. From a NY Times best selling author to a first-date (which went very well :)) to a Catholic priest to many first-timers who had never experienced a "gift economy", our guests spanned the entire spectrum. As one of Juliana's guests explained to another friend: "Karma Kitchen is like an enclave in the world where the normal laws of Economics don't apply." The context of generosity we all co-created really does bring out the best in everyone. Adam sang pop songs in the back while Michelle and Joanna were busy trying to create smile-shaped peas on the plates and Root relayed the food; Mike and Scott shuttled from the front to the back as Andy was busing tables and Karan's Shinto-Shaman guest wrote down 10 websites for him to explore "options trading". :) All along, Sam was busy "harvesting lettuce without counting the leaves". Lin could multi-task dessert like nobody else, but her closing comments were touching: "First time, I came here for community service hours; today, I'm back because it feels so great." Alex, who had "wettest job in the house", summed it up quite well: "It was amazing to be part of something where we came together to do something that none of us could've done individually. And that too, with strangers who had never worked together before."Yesterday, two teenage sisters came with their mother to practice generosity at Karma Kitchen. They tagged others with smiles and told them about our theme of "Art as Service". One of the guests wrote this beautiful note:And a guest named Jahson offered up an energizing poetry reading, that compelled another random guest to write on our site: "One of the most memorable KK experiences I've had, which came on a particularly magical Sunday for me." Jahson's 6-year-old son also looked on proudly, as people thanked his father. A guest asked to buy his book, and he said, "That was my third book sale; maybe I can even call myself an author now." The anchors spontaneously opted to buy ten books (which we all now have) and confirmed, "Jahson, You're definitely an author." Small acts of love, nurturing one journey at at time. :)Thanks again for serving. In serving others together, we organically come closer to each other and that's a beautiful thing.
--Sam and NM on Feb 21, 2012
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