Refugees Dined With Members of Their New Community at Bushwick Abbey Last Saturday

Andrew Tobia

Food & Drink Editor

[email protected]

Last November I reported on the Refugees Welcome community dinner at Bushwick Abbey. The event, orchestrated in part by community-support organization The HUBB BK, was so successful that they held another one last Saturday.

“Because of the mission of this event, and the excitement and the support from so many different levels, [Reverend Nell Archer] suggested that we apply to this grant from the diocese of Long Island,” said HUBB BK co-founder Katherine Leigh. “In the grant, we talked about wanting to build on the success and build on the community we started building.”

This second Refugees Welcome dinner may not have happened if it wasn’t for that grant. Throwing a dinner for 100 people is no small feat; The HUBB BK, though extremely dedicated, is a small grassroots organization.

Episcopal Ministries, an organization within the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, has a quarterly granting system. Churches and organizations are encouraged to apply for these grants meant to nurture partnerships within communities.

“It does a lot of things,” said Reverend Archer, the priest in charge of Iglesia de la Santa Cruz Church where Bushwick Abbey is located. “It funds programs throughout the diocese, some of which are connected to specific churches that partner with other organizations, like [The HUBB BK].” 

“After The HUBB produced the first dinner in November, it seemed like something we should continue, and like something [Episcopal Ministries] could really get excited about as well,” said Archer.

With this grant, The HUBB BK was able to host the second dinner — and as many as four more throughout the rest of this year. Refugees Welcome dinners are UNICEF programs in which local businesses and organizations are invited to host the dinners to provide a place for refugees, immigrants, and asylum-seekers to come together with members of their new communities.

This most recent dinner is also notable in that it garnered a great deal of interest from Bushwick businesses. Juanchi’s Burgers, Lucy’s Vietnamese Kitchen, Inca Chicken, and Irving Farm Coffee Roasters all contributed food for the meal. Juanchi’s in particular came through with a large donation of very tasty burgers.

“I am glad that all the people who attended the event had the chance to eat together like a huge family,” said Juanchi’s owner Mauricio McFarlane. “And for a moment, perhaps, to forget their worries and simply enjoy life, like we all should be able to do. I hope I have the chance to help more, to do more for us.”

The owners of Lucy’s said they were honored to participate in the dinner.

“Coming from refugee families we understand the need to support other refugees during this time,” one of the owners told Bushwick Daily. “Also, Johnny [another owner] is a Bushwick native, and he cares a lot about supporting his community anyway he can.”

I called the Refugees Welcome dinner in November a “beautiful scene of humanity.” Thanks to Bushwick Abbey, Episcopal Ministries of Long Island, and the hard-working and inspired women of The Hubb BK, that scene was repeated this weekend, and will be repeated again throughout the year.

Contact Refugees Welcome or The HUBB BK to learn more about getting involved.

Cover image courtesy of Daniel Techy 

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