By Mary McClintock ’82
Joshua Freund doesn't list “Matchmaker” on his resume, but he should. Joshua made the match between Greenfield Community College and Stone Soup Café, a weekly “pay-what-you-can” community café that provides wholesome meals and supportive community to a diverse group of 60-110 people every Saturday at All Souls Church in Greenfield. Increasing accessibility to local food, Joshua created an internship at the Café for himself as a GCC Farm and Food Systems student. Following Joshua, another student completed the internship. Now, other departments are exploring internships at Stone Soup through GCC's Civic Engagement Initiative.
What's really included on Joshua's resume? Student, carpenter, educator, and writer. Joshua lived and worked at the Zen Peacemakers' farm in Montague, where the Peacemakers prototyped the Stone Soup Café in 2010. He fell in love with the Café’s emphasis on relationships and befriended Ari Pliskin, who lived and worked there as well. When Ari started the Stone Soup Café in Greenfield in 2012, Joshua helped get the program off the ground.
Joshua, now 29 and living with Ari in Greenfield, dropped out of high school where he grew up in Kansas City. Conversations with GCC Farm and Food Systems program coordinator Abrah Dresdale inspired Joshua to study for his GED and then toward an Associate degree in Farm and Food Systems. Joshua is thriving at GCC and has been on the Dean's List for three semesters. GCC's supportive faculty and staff helped shift Joshua's story from “college isn't available to me” to “I am a successful college student.”
Interning at Stone Soup in spring 2013 was life-changing for Joshua. He still helps out at the Café and is an after-school teacher at Greenfield High School teaching nature awareness, creative writing, and permaculture. After finishing an Associate degree at GCC, Joshua plans to study for a bachelor's degree and work as an educator.
Currently serving as Stone Soup’s Development Director, Ari explained, “As a grassroots organization, reliable interns make a big difference for us. The Stone Soup folktale – about a stranger who comes to town, starts a pot of soup with water and a stone and invites everyone to put something in the soup until the community has come together around a tasty, nutritious meal – is an analogy for how we operate. We mix ingredients from everyone involved, including people who pay, those who donate food and volunteers who work. GCC has been a living “stone soup” for many years. There is a strong similarity in our values and way of being community together.”
Judy Raper, GCC Director of Student Development, recognizes Stone Soup's benefit to GCC. She said, “GCC wants to enhance and develop new relationships with community partners and encourage our students to engage with the community. Our students must graduate (or transfer) appreciating what it means to be contributing citizens and understanding how to use their knowledge to improve the lives of themselves and others. We have a very service-oriented student body who have responded enthusiastically to engaging with our community. A group of GCC students, faculty, and staff joined Joshua in volunteering at Stone Soup Café on November 16.”
Joshua encourages others to get involved, saying, “Some people come to Stone Soup hungry for food, some come hungry for connection. I go for both the good food and to get filled with social action and love. The people who provide that connection are often people who go to the Café hungry for food. At Stone Soup, we don’t see people as homeless or as wealthy. There is so much opportunity for people to make a difference in our community and lives. Now's the time! The resources are available. This is a great opportunity for young people to get involved.”
To watch a short video on Stone Soup, including Joshua and others visit: www.stonesoupgreenfield.org.
To learn more about GCC’s Civic Engagement Initiative, contact Judy Raper at 413-775-1819 or firstname.lastname@example.org.