The event was open to local residents and new refugee families to gather and share food and conversation in a safe, welcoming and supportive space.
Along with a free meal catered by Vimala Rajendran, owner of Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe, the event had music, bubbles, toys, face painting and a large community turnout.
Rajendran began the event by welcoming members of the community and sharing her restaurant's motto: “When Vimala cooks, everybody eats."
This was the third monthly neighborhood gathering held at the restaurant, Rajendran said. She asked the crowd to donate so they could continue to hold these events for the community.
Rajendran called this month’s lunch “love your neighbor" in honor of Valentine's Day, and encouraged all attendees to interact with one another and to be open to communication.
“This is not a handout, the meal is free to any and to all, but please make it a point to introduce yourselves to one another,” Rajendran said at the event. “Stay vigilant and find out who your neighbor really is.”
Rajendran said she lived her entire life as an immigrant and knows how it feels to be an outsider, but she wants the community to be able to come together so everyone feels like they belong.
“This is not political,” Rajendran said. “We are doing this because we love our neighbors.”