By Robin Slick, Published Saturday

Love One Another, A Nantucket Community Dinner Celebrating Valentine's Day

Who knew that a short write-up in a Monday Daybreak email would lead me the very next night, to participate in a heartfelt Valentine's gathering. Never having been before, and not knowing what to expect, I arrived at the American Legion Hall to volunteer for a Nantucket Community Dinner.

IMG_5445Beautifully decorated heart themed table settings.

IMG_5438Dan Dunlap, President of the Board of Directors for Spiritual Heritage Nantucket and his wife, Shellie Dunlap, Event Organizer

Shellie welcomed me immediately, showing me around and introducing me to other volunteers who were there to serve the meal. Volunteers included individuals like myself, along with members from organizations like the Knights of Columbus and the Masons. It became obvious to me quite quickly that this was a well-oiled operation. We were instructed on many important aspects of our job that night, including health code regulations and the ways in which we, as volunteers, were to make this a fine dinning experience for the guests to enjoy. I was impressed to say the least!

IMG_5423Some of the waitstaff volunteers led by Robert.

IMG_5428Kitchen Volunteers, photo by Shellie Dunlap

Clearly these meals had been planned for days in advance along with the extensive work that goes into the day-of cooking. All the volunteers were so happy to be there, creating an experience of community and belonging for all of the attendees. The three course fine dinning menu included: fresh bread rolls and butter, salad with nuts, raisins and goat cheese, meatloaf, mashed potatoes with gravy, and broccolini. Dessert was a red-velvet cupcake with chocolate kisses, keeping with the Valentine's theme. Attention to every detail was made, including honoring all special dietary requests. This dinning experience, being catered to in this way, felt very similar to what we are accustomed to on the ACK when eating out at our favorite restaurants.

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Above and below photos by Shellie Dunlap

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Since 2015 the non-denominational Spiritual Heritage Nantucket (SHN) has hosted community dinners likes this one where the food is prepared and served by island volunteers. These dinners occur on the second Tuesday of the month from October to May and are free and open to all.

IMG_5442-1Volunteers, Tom McCann and Me

According to SHN's website, "Nantucket Community Dinners are an opportunity for Nantucket locals to gather together to share a beautiful meal, to serve and be served, and to take a moment out of our busy and sometimes stressful lives to be united in love." 

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Guests, not only enjoyed good food but good company as well. All of this with the backdrop of our American flag, symbolizing the unity of all people in this great country of ours. I left feeling blessed to have been a part of this memorable night and encourage all to participate in a future Nantucket Community Dinner. It's a great way to connect and spend time with our neighbors on this little island we call home. I am certainly looking forward to the next one!

Oh, I almost forgot to mention, all the volunteers enjoy a meal together at the end of the event. Delicious and thoughtful all around. 

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Robin Slick

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