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Poole Faculty, Staff Celebrate Thanksgiving Spirit in 1st College-Wide Potluck

Kimberly Whitfield (from left), Yolanda Sanders, Shirika McMillian and Tuesday Cross at Poole's inaugural College-wide Potluck on Wednesday, Nov. 20.

It was all business at Poole’s inaugural College-wide Potluck on Wednesday afternoon: the business of conversing over good food.

Burrowed in the cozy confines of the E.C. Hunt Boardroom (Nelson 3220), faculty and staff gathered before three illustrious altars of food: meats, sides and desserts.

The spreads included (but were not limited to) roasted winter vegetables, spinach-and-cheese casserole and potato salad (on the sides table); honey-baked ham, sausage stuffing and rotisserie chicken (on meats); and pumpkin pie, sweet-potato pie and brownie cake (on desserts).

Monique Merriweather-Yarborough, human resources consultant

Yet, the event wasn’t devised to simply give faculty and staff a scrumptious meal and much-needed respite from the pre-holiday push. No, the potluck was borne out of the genuine desire to enact the Thanksgiving spirit, Poole College style — specifically, uniting the community, spending time with friends and newcomers and appreciating the diverse individuals that comprise the college. 

“This came about because of a suggestion by Kimberly Whitfield,” Poole College’s Stephen P. Zelnak Jr. Dean Frank Buckless said. “She asked if it would be possible to try a college-wide potluck to bring our community together. It was really nice to see all the individuals from our community participate.”

And participate, people did, with not a chair free or space vacant; which, according to Monique Merriweather-Yarborough, human resources consultant in the business services office, was very much the point.

“It is critical that we spend time together in an informal setting,” Merriweather-Yarborough wrote. “As working professionals, we sometimes spend more time with our work families than our own families.”

Then again, the food was also important, with the Buffalo chicken dip, corn pudding and Tamah’s Pound Cake registering as particular favorites.

Merriweather-Yarborough added her favorite: “The pumpkin pie and ice cream (of course). I am a big lover of sweets and the pumpkin pie did not disappoint.”

In addition, food can be a great uniter and vehicle for driving the recognition of commonality. 

DeWhitney Upchurch, an academic advisor in the Office of Undergraduate Programs, attended the potluck and commented on the power of food as a community-builder. 

Dean Frank Buckless (left) and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs Tamah Morant

“It was an excellent opportunity to show appreciation for one another,” Upchurch wrote. “I’m a big proponent of get-togethers that center around food as it allows everyone to participate and lends itself to a communal gathering.”

Poole College does not shy away from finding new and authentic ways of expressing the values of its people and those of the university at large. The College-wide Potluck did that with a holiday that is celebrated and appreciated in various but equally significant ways.

“Thanksgiving is all about taking the time to express gratitude for whatever or whoever has impacted you in a meaningful way,” Upchurch wrote. “To me, cooking for someone is love, so it was a great way to show that to the people we spend a considerable amount of time with.” 

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