Antony International Solutions (AIS) has worked extensively with Sarah’s House over the last year. As our own business has grown, our partnership with Sarah’s House has grown as well. In the short time frame of one year, we have held multiple interview workshops and ran successful linens and toiletries drives. Furthermore, we will be having an upcoming paper products drive. All members of our team from all over the country have contributed in a variety of ways, whether it be through the donation of goods through their own network or input on our interview workshop presentation. Although we have given our support to Sarah’s House in a variety of ways, we have never had an event that was in a casual setting to simply connect with the residents. A great way to connect with people on a personal level is through a Maryland tradition of a cookout.
After months of planning, AIS successfully held its first ever cookout with Sarah’s House in conjunction with a toiletries drive in September 2019. In the months leading up to the event, our team pulled together and raised hundreds of dollars and our Operations Admin, Nasir, booked a Uhaul to shop for and load up a truck with groceries and equipment for the cookout as well as two Costco size grocery carts full of deodorant, feminine products, toothpaste, soap, and shampoo. Bruce Clopein, Resource Manager of Sarah’s House, graciously accepted the gifts and shared how grateful he was for our continued support.
With the bright red charcoal burning, sweet lemonade on ice, and boards of cornhole ready, the scene was set for the guests of Sarah’s House to enjoy the festivities. In true cookout style, the guests were treated with fresh grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, salads and more. Against the pleasant laughter, there was friendly banter between family and friends. While enjoying the food, some of the other children were in line for the popular attraction of facepainting and in awe of their friends designs. One kid after seeing another with a black panther design screamed “I want to be iron man!” after blowing bubbles.
Aside from our workshops and drives, this was our first event in partnership with Sarah’s House to provide an outlet for the residents to relax and for our team to get to know them better. Every time we have any interaction with Sarah’s House, it is worthwhile because we receive a glimpse of our core values of family and relationships. The cookout was critical because we were able to really foster the environment for the guests to share their story.
One guest explained how she never expected to be here. We wish we could say this was uncommon to hear but unfortunately, this was the case of so many residents. While eating over lunch, she explained how she used to enjoy going out with friends and making music. After one mistake, it forced her and her family’s life into circumstances that have been difficult to change. In addition, to her struggles of finding a job, she also explained how she is at Sarah’s House to escape her abusive husband. Her tragic story is just one stark example of how difficult it is for the guests of Sarah’s House to escape the cycle of poverty. After some time connecting with her, she said “Thank you for doing all of this. We all really need this.”
AIS is dedicated to our support of Sarah’s House. Not only are we giving them our time, effort, and essentials, but we are also receiving the gift of joy in helping families in need. To be in a position to help others is a blessing in itself. The cookout was special because we were able to connect with the guests in a different way. In our workshops, we are the teachers giving our knowledge and empowerment to them, however this time was different. The roles were reversed and the guests were teaching us the lessons of humbleness, appreciation, and perseverance through their own stories. We look forward to continuing our future work with Sarah’s House to learn more from them and remind us of the deeper meaning of working at AIS.