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Building Community One Table at a Time

In 2012 Sara Harmeyer quit her job as charity and fundraising events organizer at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Dallas. She had been happiest the year she worked at the Red Porch Cafe—a restaurant out of her own home: “That was the best year of my life. There was something about gathering people, the food, being connected.” She envisioned inviting neighbors to her backyard for a meal and asked her father to construct a table seating 20. Using the Nextdoor website, she invited 300 people and more than 90 came: “I was absolutely blown away. I realized that night, as people kept coming down the driveway, that people just want to be invited.”

Over the last six years she has hosted more than 3,000 people. She now runs Neighbors Table full time and has placed tables in 28 States, with the aim of placing at least one table in all 50 states by 2020. She delivers the western red cedar tables herself to families as well as businesses and churches. They each cost $1,700 and up. She is often there for the first meal and gets to know her customers: “Most people getting our tables want to be part of what we’re doing and want to be part of something bigger than themselves.”

She tells her Real Simple magazine interviewer:

Two thousand years ago, we were invited to love our neighbors, and that is for sure what drives me. The world is a little crazy right now, and we could use more love in our interactions. A lot of people need to feel included and seen. And it’s hard—my neighbors are not all like me. But there are ways we can connect, and the table is a beautiful, natural place to do that. When you’re sitting at a big table, you feel like you’re part of something.


Sara Austin, “The Inspiring Woman Whose Handmade Tables Bring Communities Closer Together” Real Simple (8-23-18)

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