Over a brunch of biscuits and gravy with scrambled eggs, Queen Anna Maria talked about her life and faith, hard times and family.
No one asked about the brown woolen glove on her left hand, or why she calls herself Queen Anna Maria as she introduces herself at the Mother’s Day Appreciation Brunch at the Gathering Place.
The table is half filled with women from the Tulsa County Emergency Shelter and Lindsey House, an apartment building for women with children who are experiencing situational homelessness.
Sitting in every other seat is “a mom with a home.”
They don’t identify themselves as a business executive, a former mayor, the leader of a major nonprofit. They’re just moms getting to know other moms. Sharing advice on raising kids and maybe finding out a little about how the others live.
“Don’t give kids colored drinks in the car,” one woman says wryly when asked her best advice.
“Love yourself first” becomes a little more poignant when you know a woman has fought like hell to conquer her addictions and get custody of her kids back.
“Feeling valued, and being a part of a community is one of the greatest gifts you can give,” says Adina Lichtman, whose big, bright smile and New York accent make her stand out in the room.
She made this brunch happen, and she’s hosted dozens of them. When she heard about Gathering Place’s mission to be a place for all Tulsans, she knew she was coming here.
“When it comes to giving today, it has become very transactional,” she says. “Volunteering at a soup kitchen feels great for the volunteer serving the food. However, the person receiving the food, while they are very appreciative, they don’t feel valued.
“They don’t feel as if they are a part of your community. In fact, those in need often feel alienated and ostracized from society.”
She started sock drives with her nonprofit, Knock Knock Give a Sock. And she surprised the businesses, schools and groups that collected the socks by challenging them to also host a dinner with the people receiving them.
“At our Meet Your Neighbor Events, no one serves one another,” she says. “Everyone eats together.”
“The focus is that we are one neighborhood, we look at each other and we eat with one another because we are all neighbors, part of one community.
“All too often we assume we know what our neighbor may need and forget to ask how we can help.”
This issue of Tulsa World Magazine focuses on telling Tulsa’s stories street-by-sreet.
We met a lot of different Tulsans from all parts of town, sat down with them and got to know them. I hope you feel like you get to know them, too. And maybe look at Tulsa just a bit differently at the end.
To host a sock drive and set up a community dinner with KKGS’ help, go to knockknockgiveasock.org