The Office You Don’t See

By Aubrey Bader

When you first walk into Friendship Trays, you’ll probably see an office on the left, coolers on the right, and a kitchen in the back. But before all that, tucked in front of the coolers, is the Intake/Outreach office.

This office is where it all begins. Before the trays are made, before the deliveries are sent out, before the friendships are born, clients must apply to become a Friendship Trays recipient. Often, they are referred by a social worker or family member, and the bulk of these applications land on Annie’s desk.

Annie Cotten is an exemplary member of Friendship Trays’ staff. She started out as an intern at the Trays during her junior year of college and, in her words, she never left. She couldn’t. She loved it too much. Now she is the first voice that greets potential clients on the phone.

Annie and David’s goals are to ensure that Friendship Trays’ clients understand the importance of nutrition and the significance of their own lives.

Following a later path in life to the Trays, David Blough began as a volunteer and, like Annie, he never left, eventually working his way up to a full-time position as Outreach Coordinator. David is the first Friendship Trays representative to greet potential clients in their homes.

Annie and David’s goals are to ensure that Friendship Trays’ clients understand the importance of nutrition and the significance of their own lives. Every house visit, every phone call is treated with the utmost care. Annie and David have this incredibly difficult job of investing time in each and every client, but they welcome this challenge on a daily basis.

They hope that all volunteers, anyone involved at Friendship Trays, will do the same. Whether working in the kitchen, in the garden, delivering ten meals or delivering just one, every client matters because every client is someone’s mother or father, and we all walk a very thin line between giving help and being the mother or father needing it.

Aubry Bader was an intern this summer at Friendship Trays. She is a student at the University of Tennessee and participated in a joint program between us and Covenant Presbyterian Church called the People in Mission internship.