Building Community, One Meal at a Time

For Julia, who has attended Hoboken Grace for several years, the welcoming atmosphere on Sunday mornings has always been apparent. Whether you’re a first-time guest or a regular attender, everyone has a seat at the table. There’s a sense of responsibility for one another and for the city itself, she noticed.

It was that sense of community that inspired Julia to start praying about ways to reach and love the Hoboken community at large. At City Council and Housing Authority meetings, she kept hearing about a group of residents living in need. And while their needs felt great, with no simple, end-all solution, Julia was left with the belief that if neighborhood relations improved, perhaps some of the emotional, physical and spiritual needs she saw could also be met.

Julia recognized that in her own life and within her dinner group, she was building relationships and growing as part of a greater community over coffee or a meal. Getting together to share a meal, she realized, oftentimes provided an opportunity to connect. So after partnering with some residents from the Hoboken Housing Authority and other community groups, Julia and her dinner group began organizing a family-style dinner that’s open to everyone in Hoboken.

Held in the Community Room at 221 Jackson St. on the second Monday of each month, the dinner has grown in popularity over just a few months. It’s an opportunity for people to come together, start a conversation and build relationships, “providing a space for the needs of everyone in the community to be voiced, and hopefully met,” says Julia.

It’s also an opportunity for different sectors of the Hoboken community to come together – a place where stereotypes and barriers can be broken down as young families, singles and longtime Hoboken residents of all ages can spend time with school officials, police officers and staff of local organizations. Residents who would not otherwise seek one another out are connecting and learning of ways to love their neighbors better.

“It isn’t an organizational platform or volatile space,” Julia says. “It is simply a chance to share a meal and get to know one another as people – an opportunity to engage in authentic community.”

And there’s a seat at the table waiting for you. You’re invited to the next community dinner, on Monday, July 10th, at 7:30 p.m. Come meet some of your neighbors and be a part of the conversation of how we can make Hoboken an even better community. If you’re interested in serving, you can email Julia at cruz.juliarose@gmail.com.

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