Here it is, Christmas Eve, and I sit marveling at everything that has happened in the past two years since The Torch’s incorporation. The other day, somebody asked me what happens when we take to food truck out. I know the question was based on curiosity about the logistics of it all, but it caused me to ponder far deeper. A year ago, if somebody had posed that question, I would have looked at her with panic and uncertainty in my face, and a small ball of fear in my tummy. We had a food truck, and I didn’t know what it might be like to take it out. I didn’t know how to light the stove, or hook up the gas. I was unsure where to put the water in to fill the tank. The freezer didn’t seem to work, and I didn’t know how to get that going - or what to do if it wouldn’t. We had reached the goal we were dreaming of achieving, and I did not know for sure how we would make it happen. It was kindof like bringing a baby home from the hospital, then staring at the child with the realization everything had gotten very real, and life was forever changed, and thinking: Oh my gosh. What have we done? What do we do now?
By the end of June, after much trial and error, and arguing and frustration with each other and the food truck, Sarah and I had the logistics down - and the real learning began. What happens when we take the food truck out? A lot. One of the strongest foundations upon which we have built The Torch is the idea that needs come in a variety of packages, and it is not our job to judge whether or not someone else’s need is legitimate. We have fed people whose food stamps ran out, and those who cannot stretch them far enough to cover seven dinners each week. We have fed people who had food, but no companionship - and they have come again and again to fulfill that need. We have fed people who just like the idea of coming to the food truck, and encouraging us to move forward. We have fed people who don’t qualify for other help, but are living on a very fine line financially, and appreciate our no-questions-asked policy. We have had people come to the food truck not for a meal, but to find a listening ear and gentle word.
We have learned, and are still learning, so much about ourselves and human nature. Sarah and I are softer and more compassionate. We are letting go of judgment as we champion the underdog, and grasp the reality of pain and heartache many people face. We have realized it is equally important to accept those who have much as those who have little. Sometimes the people we meet who have the most are the hardest for us to love. We have come to understand more fully that they have needs, as well, and our job is to love and accept them wherever they are at in life. And that is a really big and challenging job.
We have learned to absorb criticism. You know, even when people are trying to do something to help, to make a difference for others, critics abound. Our no-questions-asked policy comes under fire on a regular basis, yet we know it sets us apart from others, and it is the very reason many have joined us in this adventure. That’s probably the biggest criticism we withstand. We have been told repeatedly we will get taken-advantage of. And often, other nonprofit organizations, whose sources of funding dictate policy, are not interested in working with us. A year ago, their critique would have caused me to question our determination to welcome anyone to our food truck. Throughout this past year, I have grown to realize the beauty and importance of standing firmly for what I believe to be right for The Torch. We have not been taken advantage of, instead we have seen and heard that people are encouraged, and blessed by this endeavor. And that allows us to continue moving forward. It confirms for us we are doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing, exactly the way we are supposed to be doing it.
This year, I am not facing the future with uncertainty and fear. I look ahead at the plans we are pursuing, and I realize there is a lot we don’t know about expanding The Torch. I also realize there is much to learn, and opportunity to grow. We will make mistakes, and have setbacks. We will get upset with the truck and each other. We will feel the pains of growing and changing, and, sometimes, we will stop and look at ourselves and realize how far we have come, and how far we have yet to go. We will hold our heads high, fight off our uncertainties, and overcome whatever obstacles we face. And we will continue moving forward, meeting new people, and building new dreams. And, hopefully, The Torch will ignite enough sparks to catch fire and blaze brightly as we strive to change the world for whomever comes our way.
That’s what happens when we take the food truck out.