Turquoise Table serves up hospitality
Opening the door to The Turquoise Table at 626 E. Main St. would reveal a noisy hinge acting as a substitute for a doorbell, a soft glow of mason jar lights overhead, and a rich scent of freshly baked peanut butter pie.
Marion’s newest establishment opened at 11 a.m. Tuesday to a small, eager reception. Renovation of the old building started in February. Michelle and Merle Fleming were joined by 10 volunteers redoing flooring, collecting a small library, and repainting.
“This whole ministry is funded through donations and volunteers,” Michelle Fleming said. “We rely on donations to provide everything from the food to the electric bills.”
The Turquoise Table aims to be a place for social gathering and fellowship. It is named after a book by Kristin Schell that talks about fostering relationships by placing a turquoise picnic table in her front yard and inviting neighbors, friends, and strangers to stop by and chat.
Michelle had a slightly different experience with a turquoise table of her own.
“I’m a retired second grade teacher; I retired last Tuesday,” Michelle said, gesturing to a metal turquoise table sitting in a room adjacent to the entryway, relocated from her classroom and surrounded by beach-themed decorations.
“I had this table in my classroom, and it was where the kids would eat,” she said. “When I would see maple syrup from pancakes on my papers, I’d tell them to go eat at the turquoise table!”
She encountered Schell’s book after already using her own turquoise table. In wanting to support the message, she bought the building and put it to use as an “indoor” turquoise table of sorts.
“There used to be a Big Scoop in the parking lot next door,” Michelle said. “I would always take my kids there after we went to the playground.”
Now the Turquoise Table can act as a place for similar memories for parents and their children coming over from Central Park.
The Turquoise Table has 15 volunteers along with the Flemings, who come by weekly to help with the food and drinks or to give of their time.
Drinks, baked goods and ice cream are available along with a box for recommended donations. The building’s library offers a selection of fiction and nonfiction works for kids and adults.
There also is a board for prayer requests to be passed along to local prayer groups and the ability to rent the building for $50 outside of its normal hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.