I showed up to our Wednesday Drop-In without the M&M’s that I’d promised a community member. The day before he had ridden up behind me and Joanna on Queen Street and excitedly told us that he would like candy in his pancakes the next day. Not only that, but he’d like to make them for everyone. We heard a bit about his night outside, the impending day and then, as he whisked off, a very loud, “ERINN, REMEMBER THE BOWL SIZE PACKAGE OF M&M’s”.
I remembered, but was unsuccessful at locating them in the store I stopped at. When I arrived at the drop-in he was waiting outside and excitedly grabbed the bag of groceries out of my hand only to discover there were no M&M’s. His face dropped. I felt bad. We decided together to do a quick run to a convenience store around the corner, during which we met multiple Dale folks. They all got an earful about how awesome the pancakes were going to be that day. Most smirked and good-naturedly wondered if breakfast would be successful.
The store we ended up at didn’t have M&M’s either (there must be a shortage or something), so my friend picked out two Snickers bars and a Coffee Crisp. I declined a plastic bag, but he insisted on one so that “we wouldn’t drop them and disappoint everyone wanting chocolate in their pancakes”. On the walk back I heard all about the two things he liked to cook, one being toast. I gently asked if he was truly up for overseeing the food, which I was assured he was.
Joanna wisely suggested that we take a poll of who would like plain vs. fancy pancakes. It turned out about half the room was excited about the extra shot of sugar. Less than an hour later our friend had chopped up the chocolate bars, produced a heap of pancakes and helped serve. People loved them and he looked thrilled.
There are few places where this person would be allowed to participate in this way. He tells me this all the time. Some might wonder if we should allow it, to which I wonder, how could we not? The Dale is meant to be a place where people are invited to both give and receive. This friend identified what he wanted to give, asked for help in doing it, received supervision and left the building standing taller than when he arrived. I love these moments. Makes me want to track down a bowl sized bag of M&M’s for next time.