The Picnic Project: Helping the most vulnerable every week in Sanford

Myling Jordan was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2018. It’s been difficult making ends meet. It’s also been isolating.

"So it’s a lonely place sometimes because the medication causes side effects so sometimes i’m by myself at home crying, but I come here and i meet so many beautiful people," Jordan said.

The Picnic Project is a non-profit that works to help the most vulnerable in our community by helping them get back on their feet with food, clothing, healthcare and outreach. Their motto: big tables, open arms.

"These people are struggling. A lot of the people we see are working, some of them multiple jobs and they still just can't get enough," said co-founder and chef Mark Thomson. 

He and his partner Ryan Boseman started the project 14 years ago and it’s now their life’s work. The food and support they provide can make a huge difference in the daily lives of the most vulnerable in our community. 

"If we can save them a few dollars so they can use that to buy a bus pass for work or get a prescription filled instead of having to make those hard choices," said Thomson.

They meet every Friday morning at the First United Methodist Church in Sanford, partnering with charities, government agencies and health care providers as a trusted outreach, partner and friend. 

"I've never been homeless, but I have been hungry, so I know how that feels," said Vivian Strawberry. The 82 year old, who looks at least 20 years younger, has served as the in-house pastor for more than a decade. She went from someone who used these services to someone who uses experience and faith to serve others whose shoes she once walked in.

"When you when you sort of been there, you know how it feels," Strawberry said. "So I just try to give a helping hand where I can. And that just gives me joy, just makes me smile even in my sad times, you know, it makes me happy."