Last Friday night I had a dinner party. I invited way more people that could comfortably fit into my small house. And, it was a party with a catch. You got to come and eat and drink and socialize, but before you left there was a basket by the door and the deal was, you were to toss a few dollars into it.
I HATE asking people for money, but I did it anyway because I hate even worse the thought that there are way too many people out there without a place to call home or about to lose their home because of unforeseen circumstances.
So. I decided to have a “rent party.” I asked people to come dinner and I offered a selection of soups, homemade, bread, dessert and fellowship and I told them up front that this was a party with a catch. There would be a basket where they would be asked to help the Neighbor to Neighbor program that provides rental assistance for people who find themselves in a crisis situation for whatever reason, and about to be evicted from their home.
“It can happen to anyone,” Kelly Evans who works with Neighbor to Neighbor in Fort Collins explained, as she shared her own experience following a when her husband entered the real estate business in 2008 just as the recession was in full swing. She and her family found themselves in a situation where they could not pay their rent and were forced to borrow from family to avoid homelessness.
Kelly told us that “rent” parties started during hard times in the 1930s when friends and neighbors got together to help each other out. Aside from the fact that we don’t know the people we’re helping personally, it is no different from the rent parties Neighbor to Neighbor sponsors today.
I have to say that by the time the evening was over, I’d decided that this was one of the most satisfying dinner parties I’d ever hosted. There was a whole lot of animated conversation. People seemed to be genuinely enjoying each other. There wasn’t even room enough for everyone to sit down and eat, but that didn’t seem to matter. They ate and drank and chatted to each other standing up.
By the end of the evening, two of the guests had offered to host a rent party, we had raised $850 and I had decided that “a party with a purpose” is the way to go.