It Takes a Village

Grace Allen
Issue Date: 
May, 2019
Article Body: 

In November of 2017, Norfolk resident Jeff Chalmers decided to start a twice-a-month free supper for residents. His goal at the time was simply to bring people together in a spirit of collaboration and support, and welcome new residents to town as well as encourage established residents to re-connect.
More than one year later, Community Supper (formerly Wednesday’s Supper) has evolved into a community-help initiative, too. The group has become the go-to organization for anyone in need. Once the need is verified, the volunteers of Community Supper go to work.
“We have provided fuel assistance, furniture, and clothing,” said Chalmers. “Community Supper has grown to the point where we’re helping the community, not just feeding it.”
Chalmers runs two fundraisers at holiday time: Battle of the Bulbs and Homeless for the Holidays. Monies raised go right back into Community Supper. Chalmers also harnesses social media to ask residents and businesses directly for support when he is made aware of a specific need.
“You should see how fast people respond when I ask for help,” he said. “We live in an incredibly selfless community and they just jump in when needed. No one has said no to our requests.”
Chalmers is a long-time area volunteer, as well as a national inspirational speaker and sales manager for a Danvers mortgage company. He hasn’t had any problems getting other volunteers to help out at Community Supper meals, either. Service groups, high school groups, and individuals set up, serve, and clean up after the meals.
The popular meals, held the first and third Thursday of every month at the Norfolk Grange, average 50 to 80 people at each dinner, but the Grange can easily accommodate 100 people. The meals are provided by The Gavel Public House in Wrentham, which has donated every meal except for the first two.
Everyone is welcome at the suppers, especially families and children, and while the meal is still free, those who are able are asked to bring a canned good for the food pantry. Residents are asked to RSVP 24 hours in advance.
Volunteers will also deliver to residents who cannot attend in person but could use a hot meal.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the community to get together,” said Chalmers. “Norfolk is still a village and a village is all about each other. It all comes back to the community helping each other and this community is really amazing at helping its own.”
Visit to RSVP for the suppers, volunteer, or request assistance.