In light of International Day of Older Persons, we’d like to take the opportunity to tell you about a very special event we organised last year. December 2018, lights are flickering everywhere and it’s cold outside (well, considering the time of year, the temperature was very pleasant, but you get the idea). Our restaurants are filled with guests enjoying pancakes, surrounded by their family and friends. It’s a festive time for everyone.
But is it indeed a festive month for everyone? We started asking ourselves this question after one of our colleagues had a conversation with an elderly gentlemen, who talked about how awful he found December. Of course, you always see these kind of stories in the media, but you always hope that it’s not as bad as it seems.
Before his death, our former mayor, Eberhart van der Laan, left the people of Amsterdam with the message “be kind to the city and to each other”. That made us stop and think. We at PANCAKES Amsterdam get so much from the city of Amsterdam. That’s why we wanted to give back to the wonderful people in this city, starting with a dinner for the lonely elderly.
For the second year in a row, we held our ‘elderly Christmas dinner’. The event is catered to the elderly in Amsterdam who could use some company around the holidays. You would think there’s enough lonely, elderly people, which I’m certain is true, but we didn’t know how to reach these people. Thankfully, we had help from many people, including Rosemary de Jong, to reach the target audience. Yes, there’s always talk about target audiences, which is kind of weird and definitely impersonal, but for lack of a better term, I’ll use it for now. But okay, the amount of people that were coming to the dinner reached 150. You would think “great, that’s a lot of interest!” But it presented us with the next challenge: how do you get these people, who aren’t exactly capable of getting on a bike and race through the busy traffic, at our restaurant? Luckily, there’s a beautiful initiative in Amsterdam that solved this problem for us: the GroenGrijsbus (Green-Grey-Bus), founded by Eric Junge. They were willing to voluntarily help us transport everyone to and from our restaurant. Around 15:30, the first bus of elderly people arrived. However, because we’re located right on the canal, parking (or loading & off-loading) is always an issue. It’s not allowed to park or even stop anywhere with a touring car, but having elderly people walk long distances was not an option. Thankfully, we had a whole team of volunteers from our own staff available to escort every from the bus to the restaurant.
What a party it was: food, drinks, but most importantly, dancing! Folk singer Davey Bindervoet got everyone to dance to traditional Amsterdam sing-alongs. I don’t think age matters at all once the music starts and all you want to do is dance! It was a wonderful evening, with exceptionally grateful and happy people.
Coming back to the title of this blog “being happy is easier together”, we at PANCAKES Amsterdam think that while you can be happy by yourself, it’s also a really great thing to share happiness with friends and family. We hope that with this dinner we brought a few moments of joy to everyone who attended. We’re very proud that we were able to do this with our PANCAKES team, that worked voluntarily and of course also all the other people involved.
Source: Ramon | PANCAKES Amsterdam