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I used to volunteer a lot more than I currently do. Moving to Scotland from America presented its fair share of challenges: getting re qualified, moving house, finding steady work and making friends were all things consuming my life. But early this year, I stumbled on Kaleyard at a moment in my life when I really needed some inspiration. Cooking has long been a refuge of mine, and I knew there had to be a way where I could fuse this passion with my desire to give back to my community.

I attended a Kaleyard community cooking class as a volunteer. Our guests were older gentlemen, a demographic that often faces devastating loneliness. The men were great sports, and several had some good experience in the kitchen. A few were intimidated by the prospect of chopping onions, but Sumayya made sure they took on tasks they could handle and enjoy. One gentleman in particular was more interested in serenading us with his lovely old-time songs. I came away feeling revived, happy- and full of Sumayya’s delicious food.

Kaleyard is also a place of refuge. It is inclusive and Sumayya takes pains to make sure everyone at any skill level is able to participate and prepare our shared meal. Breaking bread is a timeless way of meeting and bonding with our neighbors and Kaleyard has done it with ease and flair. I’m grateful for the opportunity to give back through such a unique charity.

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