JustServe, Habitat for Humanity and Sharing Ministries are joining together to break bread with the community on Sept. 25. 

JustServe, Sharing Ministries and Habitat for Humanity are joining hands to break bread with the community for JustServe’s annual Community Award presentation. This year, though, there’s a twist.

Main Street will be converted into a community dining experience known as “Dinner on Main Street,” with tables set up throughout the street for Montrose residents to break bread together while raising money for the nonprofits involved.

The award was given to Sharing Ministries’ Executive Director Oneda Doyal last year, who will be passing it forward to Erica Madison this year.

Madison, the executive director of Habitat for Humanity of the San Juans, considers this year’s endeavor a passion project. After experiencing a similar event in another community, she realized how much she wanted her communities to have access to one just like it that brings people together.

“It’s not political or divisive and this is truly about bringing people together to share a meal for these causes,” Madison said. “So I'm beyond ecstatic and nervous. It's the first-year event, so of course we want it to go off without a hitch, but we're really excited to welcome the community out.”

The community-style dinner was an idea conceived by JustServe’s head volunteer, Jill Barton.

Having moved to Montrose from Waco, Texas, Barton was familiar with the HGTV home improvement couple Chip and Joanna Gains, who call Waco home. Barton recalled how before the couple gained popularity, they would set up farm tables up and down alleyways and would have food trucks on site for a farm-to-table meal.

The idea lit a fire under Barton, who noted that the pandemic hit nonprofits like Habitat and Sharing Ministries hard as they lost several volunteers. The head volunteer approached Madison in January 2021, where the two women engineered the genesis of “Dinner on Main Street.”

Barton noted that the event remains cognizant of social distancing guidelines but will allow the community to join together. She hopes to see Main Street lined with a single long table next year.

The proceeds will be split equally between Habitat for Humanity and Sharing Ministries. Additionally, the Black Canyon Boys and Girls Club will be pouring drinks for the event and will take home any proceeds from alcohol sales. Habitat for Humanity has chosen to “pay it forward” by donating a playhouse to the BCB&G Club and event tickets are being donated to first responders.

The event organizers have already sold nearly 400 tickets.

The dinner remains a volunteer-run occasion, said Barton, but more volunteers are still needed for setting up, tearing down and serving during the event.

“Dinner on Main Street” has acquired over 30 sponsors to date, who are largely responsible for what Barton and Madison hope is a cornerstone event for the community in future years. The occasion also marks milestone anniversaries for both Habitat and Sharing Ministries, who are celebrating their 30th and 25th anniversary respectively.

Habitat for Humanity has built 56 homes since joining the community in 1991 and are currently building three more homes in Ridgway. The 60th home is under planning development and is projected to be given to a veteran, according to Madison.

The Habitat director found the premiere event “fitting” for the community due to Montrose’s housing stability crises.

“What better way than to bring these two organizations back to the forefront on Main Street?” said Madison, adding that the dinner would provide a future platform for the nonprofits of the community to join together.

Barton considers the event an opportunity to spread awareness about serving within the community, particularly for retirees.

“I know you want to enjoy retirement and part of enjoying retirement is using the skills that you've developed all of these years,” stated Barton. ”It’s finding ways to use your skill set to serve and where you can really touch the community that you now belong to.”

Tickets can be purchased at https://bit.ly/3yYdnFr through September 17 for $20 and children ages 5 and younger eat for free. No ticket sales upon entry will be permitted.

Volunteer opportunities for the event can be viewed at https://tinyurl.com/2kb6ykxk.

Other opportunities can be found through the Habitat for Humanity website at buildinglives.org. Under the "volunteer"/"volunteer opportunities is a calendar where volunteers can find the event under Sept. 25 and register for any activity they are able to volunteer for. Under registration, volunteers are able to select a meal for the evening.

Dinner on Main Street will be held on Sept. 25 at 5:30 p.m. following closures between Townsend and Uncompahgre and will be catered by Jimmers BBQ.

Cassie Knust is a staff writer for the Montrose Daily Press.

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