Gratefull Greenville

The Gratefull Chattanooga potluck event was the inspiration behind Gratefull Greenville.

The Gratefull Chattanooga potluck event was the inspiration behind Gratefull Greenville.

Christine Wu, Staff Reporter

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On November 25, 2019, all of Greenville is invited to share a meal at the first Gratefull Greenville community potluck. Held in the middle of Main Street, 50 8-foot long tables will be set to welcome up to 1000 people looking for a delicious lunch. Free of any charge, the potluck is meant to be a bonding opportunity for the community where individuals and families from different backgrounds will be able to share a meal with friends, neighbors, or strangers. 

Mary Beth Cross, an organizer and leader of the committee overseeing the event, shared that the inspiration behind the idea grew from the desire to be part of Greenville. As a Greenville native, Mary remembers the times when North and South Main Streets were severely divided. Although the growth and change of the city have been substantial since her childhood, the division remains visible. Mary’s son, Mack Cross, founded Project Host and was also the one who discovered the potluck idea from reading about Gratefull Chattanooga. In their city, men who were homeless sat with men in suits, the young sat with old, and Chattanooga natives sat with newcomers. The hope is for Gratefull Greenville to achieve the same. Mack stated, “having a meal together is like this even playing field where everyone is equal.” As amazing as soup kitchens are, Gratefull Greenville would be a changing force. 

During the initial stages of the elaborate idea, Cross and her team discussed some of the requirements for the event. It had to be free, have good food, and include the entire community. From that, the steering committee has consisted of people from various parts of Greenville, including neighborhood leaders, business leaders, and city and county leaders. They have spread the word at churches, community centers, neighborhoods, and businesses in an effort to create the largest turnout as possible.

Alongside Project Host as the one of the main partners and beneficiaries, local restaurants such those from the Table 301 Restaurant Group, have committed to providing several dishes. “It speaks highly of a community that is coming together for something like this,” Carl Sobocinski, president of Table 301 said. “Especially in this day and age when society can be so divided and fragmented, this is one of those times when everyone can come together, and we can count our blessings and be thankful.” The community can get involved through bringing a dish to the potluck, volunteering to serve food, or sponsoring the event. When asked about her plans with Gratefull Greenville, junior Sanne Arnold shared, “it sounds like such a great idea that would leave a large impact on our community. I’ll be in school at the time that it happens, but hopefully, everyone who is free during the time of the event will go.”