A Lowcountry woman is answering the call to a challenge made in the aftermath of the Mother Emanuel massacre. Tina Singleton is serving the community with a dash of dialogue, and a lot of love. She’s our Everyday Hero.
Welcome to the table, Transformation Table, a monthly meal with strangers from different backgrounds. Founder Tina Singleton says, “Transformation Table is all about connections. It is a way for people of different background to come together in a safe space to learn about each other, learn about their diversity and also to connect to each other through their humanity and to see each other through humanity.”
Singleton was a development worker in Afghanistan and planted a vegetable garden there. That’s where the original seed of Transformation Table took root. Singleton continues to use food as a way to bridge differences.
“We’ve had Vietnamese. We’ve had Afghan. We’ve had Moroccan. We’ve had Persian, We’ve had Gullah and we are having South Indian food. One of the things about Transformation Table that I love so much is that it’s a non judgmental environment. People can come and be who they are, and talk about issues that are important to them with out judgement.”
During an event at the Gaillard Center commemorating the one-year anniversary of the massacre at Mother Emanuel, Bernice King, the daughter of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. issued a challenge to the Charleston community to fight hate by making meaningful efforts to really understand others despite dividing factors, such as race, ethnicity, religion, national origin. “One of the things she said was Charleston if you’re serious about change, you have to get intimate, and she said go to each others homes, have dinner. I thought that’s it! That’s what I want to do because I was trying to figure out how I can bring what I saw happening in Afghanistan to Charleston,” says Singleton.
The dinners are held at different homes every month. Nilsy and Ivan Rapalo hosted a dinner at their Goose Creek home. “when you have the open heart that she has, you can bring that into people. You can invite them and tell them what it is and feel that you are a part of Charleston. Everybody deserves to be here. Everybody belongs here. Charleston belongs to everybody. That’s why I support Tina with this, and I love that she’s taking the time to do this for the community.”
Tina says she hopes the table spreads around the world. “All of the barriers and the labels and stereotypes and assumptions that people have about certain groups. They disappear when people are around the table. You’re forced to see people as individuals and not as an African American ,or as a muslim. Having been in a war zone, I have seen how violence and hate impacts the community, impacts individuals, and I don’t want that. I don’t want that for our community and we’re all in this together. If we all go off the cliff together, then we go off the cliff together, and we can’t afford to do that. We have to stick together.”
Tina says people from Chicago, Charlotte, and Paris have reached out to her about Transformation Tables in their cities. For more information about Transformation Table, click here: www.transformationtable.com