Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Under the bridge

There was a barbecue party under Interstate 40 in downtown Knoxville tonight.
The guest list included 600 of Knoxville's residents who call the city's streets their home.
On the menu was pulled pork, corn chowder, baked chips, yogurt, chocolate and white milk, sweet tea, and a variety of desserts. Music blared through speakers as guests found their seats.

This here was the last-Wednesday-of-every-month shindig, courtesy of Lost Sheep Ministries and in partnership with my friend Joe Bryant and his Black Eyed Joe's BBQ, as well as a host of volunteers.

The attendance requirements are simple: come as you are. Sit your butt down and enjoy some good food.

On these evenings, guests also tend to other tasks: getting clothes or shoes; getting taxes done; medical check ups. Tonight, it was blood pressure tests.

An hour before the 7 p.m. feast began tonight, I came to pull 60 piping hot pork shoulder roasts, separating the fat from the meat. Nothing makes me happier than being around great food. I donned two pairs of plastic gloves and dug in. It being my first time and all, I got great advice from the veteran pullers. One lady told me, "if it's something you'll eat, put it in the good pile. It it's not, toss it."

We then made an assembly line and began serving.
Joe believes in giving what he calls his "first fruits." The way he catered tonight's event (and every one before it) is how he would cater a wedding. Just because someone doesn't have a home does not mean they don't deserve the best, he said.
His approach to serving the guests "resonates with them," he told me tonight.

Then just like that, the party was over, guests dispersed and volunteers broke down tables and chairs and loaded them into waiting vans.

I came home feeling good-tired and smelling like barbecue. I call that awesome on both fronts.

                                               Joe's BBQ trailer


  1. this is great, Lola! Although when I started reading the post I was heartbroken. 600 people in Knoxville without a home. And that's a relatively small town. So sad. but I'm glad there are people excited to serve.

  2. I want to do this with you next time you go, pretty pls? :)