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KK DC Restarts Again!

After a hiatus, we just re-launched Karma Kitchen last weekend in DC! Aya, Kat and the local gang was excited. The week before, all the volunteers came together to settle the logistics, gathered up all the supplies and brainstormed ways to spread love. We knew that one of the founders of KK was going to be in town, but it was a very happy surprise to see Amit, Ashish and Manal also come down from New York!

We opened the morning with a circle of sharing, in the orientation. A teenager shared a story of stopping to pray for deer killed on the road, another spoke about receiving a ride from a stranger, Kristin blew bubbles to spread cheer, past volunteers like Sateen recalled their experiences, another volunteer spoke about paying forward for a Subway sandwich the night before. Most of us were sporting our Karma Kitchen tees. The restaurant owners, for whom this was the first time hosting the restaurant, also joined us. Aya, who has been a volunteer for dozens of Karma Kitchen, would later remark that the opening circle was a deeply transformative one for her -- and reconnected her to why she serves at KK!

As the door opened, it was a great thrill. We served the trickle of guests coming in, got our logistics in gear, before the restaurant got buzzing. On the side was our makeshift kindness table -- from heart pins to Smile Cards to works & conversation to many small gifts. Each table had a unique quote, alongside a Karma Kitchen menu, and smiling volunteer servers. As guests left, we gave them all small plants to "plant seeds".

In such a context, ripple effect is very natural. Conversations are different. A guest asked one of the volunteers, "Do you think this spirit can be applied to law?" That led to the story of a compassionate judge. Another guest was visiting from Los Angeles, and wants to start something there. Yet another started opening up his career transition, while another guest wondered about serving locally.

Ashish's 14-year-old daughter came up and hugged another volunteer. Why? "I'm just in a hugging kind of mood." Later, Ashish posted this haiku:

Tree, keen to give shade,
saw its seeds blossom instead,
humbled yet again.

Outside, bunch of volunteers were doling out free hugs on the streets while others were holding banner that read, "Honk if you believe in the power of love!"

In the closing circle, there was a strong feeling of kinship. Even the restaurant manager and owner expressed deep gratitude. With that gratitude, we hope to continue the ripple every month.

As for me, I was tagged with this small Hershey's kisses box, signed by Barack Obama. It was intended for my kids, but in the spirit of Karma Kitchen, I gave it to my friend's daughter -- who is terminally ill, cannot stand on her own, but is a huge fan of Obama. She was so happy to receive it, and so was I. Just like Karma Kitchen, in making others smile, we are left with a smile ourselves.

Honk, if you believe in the power of love. :)

--Krishna on Apr 28, 2016

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