Volunteers serve meals and hope at 'Full Plates, Full Hearts' event at Detroit Shipping Company

Posted at 5:57 PM, Nov 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-21 17:57:45-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — For the fifth year The Michigan and Detroit Restaurant and Lodging Associations hosted a free community meal at the Detroit Shipping Company. They call it the Full Plates Full Hearts event. The goal is to not only feed those in need but to give them a serving of hope.

“It's about being thankful,” said Nicole Hay, Director of Human Resources at the Siren Hotel.

When the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association needed volunteers to make 600 meals for the hungry, she offered to give to send a message.

“You are not alone. You are not alone,” said Hay.

The message was received.

“They made me feel like somebody thought about me. Somebody gave a care,” said Sidney Chrystal, one of the recipients of a warm meal.

Volunteers say it is also a blessing to give.

“I never forget where I came from,” said Genevieve Vang, Owner & Executive Chef of Bangkok 96 and Bangkok 96 Street Food.

As a little girl Vang’s family fled violence in Laos during the Vietnam War. As a refugee, she came to know hunger all too often.

“It is very difficult. Sometimes there is nothing else. There is no rice. No water. But you don’t want to say you are hungry,” said Vang.

Vang now owns Bangkok 96 Restaurant in Dearborn and Bangkok 96 street food at the Detroit Shipping Company. She and other volunteers say one meal might not solve the world’s problems, but maybe, just maybe, it can inspire something bigger.

“If we can make a difference to one person today, then tomorrow that person is going to carry that. And if we make a difference to 20 it will carry to 40, 60 and beyond,” said Petro Drakopoulos, Detroit Restaurant & Lodging Association.

Vang said for her help from others made it possible to find hope which led to her success. She says she sees each meal as a serving of hope.

“That’s your journey. Maybe 30 40 years from now you can become an entrepreneur just like me,” said Vang.