TableSide started out as a small group of people from different areas of Auckland who through a common friend here and there, started to see each other to socialise, eat and drink and catch up on life. As we got to know each other better, and started to talk about some of the things that really matter to us, we realised that all of us wanted something more than just the normal busy routine of school, jobs, sports and paying the bills. We found that we actually wanted to be involved in something outside of ourselves – something that would give back to our community and something that our families could be involved in together.
We weren’t so presumptious to think that we had all the answers and we recognised that there are many charitable and volunteer organisations already doing fantastic work in Auckland. But which one should we join? We spoke to many organisations – most of which wanted financial support for existing programmes or to hire additional staff. While we would have loved to have written out a large cheque for each of these organisations, we thought we had more to offer. We are made up of teachers, builders, business people, lawyers, nurses, students, young and old – and the things that we had to offer was our time and our skills.
So now we have built up a number of partnerships with charitable and non-profit organisations in Auckland and we volunteer our time, our resources and our skills to help out in whatever way we can. In the process of this, we have found that we have also become good friends.
TableSide was our metaphor for where we started out – gathering in homes and cafes, sharing food – and life – around a table. Sitting around a table with others demands more than a wave or hello down the street or across the fence. It is in the telling of stories and jokes, laughing, crying or sharing worries or dreams that times of community is experienced.
Whether sharing food and hospitality, working alongside, or supporting those we encounter in times of need and celebration, we realised that we want to be involved in our community, doing life with others instead of being separated from others.
Our aim is to be a group of people who connect with others in our community – at their ‘table’ and ours.