Picture this: a 15-month-old boy from a poor family in Guyana South America, seriously burned over more than half of his tiny body accidentally by a fire and in desperate need of transportation to and accommodation in the United States for urgent medical treatment; a girl in a remote village of China with next to no access to pediatric orthopaedic care, traumatized by a horrible train accident whose entire prosperous life ahead of her is contingent upon receiving a set of highly sophisticated artificial legs in a Boston hospital; and finally a Chinese community in a tranquil town south of Boston, whose members normally work in business attire or in front of computers in high rises of Boston, now rustling in a local restaurant with sleeves rolled up, waiter/waitress apron tight, and chef’s uniform clean.
This was the scene in the Chinese restaurant Sichuan Gourmet located in Sharon MA and what’s in the mind of the residents voluntarily working and dining there in the brisk morning of June 5th. Panning out impeccably after a full month of meticulous preparation, this group philanthropic effort started from an innovative idea of the community leaders that a breakfast be prepared by the community and served to the community and its friends nearby with proceeds donated to charitable organizations. It would have been impossible without the generous support by Sichuan Gourmet Sharon who not only graciously provided the venue but also spared its fully equipped kitchen for the entire morning.
Driven by a strong desire to contribute to this mission, a handful of community members serve as cooks or kitchen assistants to prepare traditional Chinese food fresh at the restaurant. These included wonton (some deep fried), You Tiao, meatballs, soy bean milk, various congee, beef noodle soup. As if this list does not make you slobber, numerous volunteers painstakingly prepared pastries, deserts, etc at home and delivered to the restaurant. Here is a glimpse of what was being served: homemade fermented rice wine, spring roll, fried dough twist, scallion pancake, cold steamed noodle, jellied bean curd with chili sour sauce, fried rice roll, rolling donkey (glutinous rice rolls), rice cakes, black sesame filled glutinous rice balls (Tang Yuan).
Relishing the delicious food were the conversations among the constant flow of patronizers from 7am to 11am with many bringing a whole family. The total number dwarfed that on the pre-registered list of 155. Pulling all these together was by no means an easy feat, especially considering the unpredictability of the customer flow and what they order, and the fact that it was the very first time for most members to work in the context of a restaurant. With the crew of 14 divided into two shifts and transferred seamlessly, the sharpness and professionalism were at their full display during the event. The ultra-friendliness of the customer does make the rookies at ease though. With a strong sense of common purpose and dedication, and serving customers who reward tiny hiccups by kind laughter, the crew’s morale is sky-high. As a result, making dough, washing mountain-high dishes, cutting vegies, stirring wonton fillings all become so enjoyable and get done in an ordered and timely fashion.
The community raised more than 2,400 dollars in the single morning alone. The fund was presented to representative Stephen McIntosh from HandReach. This would provide precious and timely help to bringing kids possibly from anywhere in the world with large-scale burns, amputations, and birth defects to the Shriners Hospital for Children – Boston.
This community has been preparing and/or participating with ever-growing passion events including the annual Spring Festival Gala, and various town affairs such as the recent election. Facilitated by such activities, the group becomes more and more tightly knit. This is clearly reflected during the heated online discussion after the philanthropic breakfast. With countless fond memories of the food and the conversations, the overwhelming sentiment is that there is a stronger sense of home. This is particularly cherished since most in the community are first-generation Chinese Americans born on the other side of the earth and still have close family members there.
It is worth noting that
- This is not the first such endeavor. In fact, a few Chinese families started as early as 2008 to host children and their families from China who need urgent and critical medical treatment. Thanks to the newly formed Sharon Chinese Association, this kind of endeavors is now more systematically organized.
- This is not the first time Sichuan Gourmet is working together with the community in a mutually-beneficial fashion. An interesting community café project was started a few months ago. The restaurant provides home-style dishes that are fresh, wrapped professionally, and ready for pickup at the time designated by each advanced order. This has quickly become a popular service given that most in the community have two parents at demanding work. Getting off the train and driving to Sichuan Gourmet has become a daily must for some families. Most importantly, there is an open communication channel between the community and the restaurant owner who listens to the feedback on a daily basis and would gladly make necessary changes to the items on the menu.
The event was co-hosted by the Sharon Chinese Association and the Sichuan Gourmet. Main organizers of the event were Yueming Wang, Rui Zhang, Hua Liu, Qihong Li. The following kindly provided tremendous help: Jie Jiao, Min Fu, Biling Hong, Xiaowei Dou, Liping Ren, Chi Zhang, Qingfen Zhang, and numerous Sharonese.