Saturday, October 22, 2011


The Soul Kitchen

"Virtue is currency."

Today, I just want to sit down and tell you about this interesting article I've come across while browsing Yahoo News.

It's about Jon Bon Jovi's new charity restaurant.

It's called "The Soul Kitchen".

It's not your usual gourmet restaurant where you pay for food and service; money transfers hands, bellies are filled, wages are paid, profits are made and sometimes, just sometimes, experiences are had - good ones as well as bad.

In this establishment, virtue is currency.

There is a pre-condition: This pre-condition is that when you walk into Jon's new charity restaurant, you must walk out of that tired, old mentality that money makes the world go round. Because the new culture he has invested in The Soul Kitchen is that love and not money is currency and that gift and not gold rules the world.

I think it's riding on a wave - the wave of the future.

It is standing on a principle often neglected and overlooked in the daily pursuit of happiness that (1) one is made happy first in doing what one is doing, (2) money comes from the satisfaction of knowing one is happy, and (3) wealth comes from the understanding that life is more than just making money.

One realizes happiness first. Wealth comes after. Money is not wealth. And being wealthy is not the cause of happiness but the effect of it.

Nowadays in the United States, the brave home of that great American dream of happiness and Jon's home Country, the American dream is in a rut.

The Soul Kitchen grants its patrons a chance to release themselves from this rut.

Is the American dream dead? No, it is eclipsed. It needs redefinition in a way that returns it to its original form. It does not need to be reinvented.

Because the American dream is not a material dream (it never was) but a dream of freedom - freedom from undue fear, from inordinate want, from religious and political oppression, and from all forms of tyrannies that banish the truth and prevents the dreaming from coming true.

It is the same as the dreaming in our own Country. The only difference is that it is challenged by a set of circumstances that is peculiar to the American Republic. But the nature of the dream remains common in our peoples. This is why I can relate to Jon's vision.

Within the soul of that kindred nation, people are asking themselves about their dream or to be more precise, about their dreaming - their ability to dream - their ability to perceive the vision of themselves as one nation under Almighty God arrayed as a Republic faithful to its mission.

People are quietly asking themselves about their dreaming and this soul searching is evidenced by the nature of those current events now transpiring in America like the Occupy Wall Street movement and others like it (this national soul searching will surely have a significant effect on the tone of the Presidential campaigns leading up to the 2012 elections).

But today, my honorable compatriots, we shall not go that far.

I just want us to remain with the thought of Jon Bon Jovi's personal contribution to the greater dreaming of America - adding a little bit of salt to flavor the salty sea that is the reality of our common humanity - the Soul Kitchen.

I want us to learn from this and to be thankful.

The giving is the gift.

Mabuhay ka, Jon Bon Jovi, at mabuhay po tayong lahat! God bless America and God bless the Philippines.

Real Stars

Some stars are fake, some are real -
of the fake ones, the heart can feel,
because of the real ones,
when one can tell -
it's their nearness to our earth
that makes it sell.

Real stars shine with a warmth
that often reaches us
and are full of genuine concern
but fake ones really don't connect
as much as we would like,
their light is not as warm and comforting
as far as the heart can tell
they could be as far from our earth
as heaven is to hell.


Here is the article completely reproduced (since if I post it as a link, it might get replaced by some other article) -

RED BANK, N.J. (AP) — In three decades as one of the world's biggest rock stars, Jon Bon Jovi has eaten in some of the world's best restaurants, savoring the best food the planet has to offer.

Yet there's no place he'd rather have dinner than The Soul Kitchen, a "pay-what-you-can" restaurant he and his wife Dorothea established in a former auto body shop near the Red Bank train station in central New Jersey.

The restaurant provides gourmet-quality meals to the hungry while enabling them to volunteer on community projects in return without the stigma of visiting a soup kitchen. Paying customers are encouraged to leave whatever they want in the envelopes on each table, where the menus never list a price.

The restaurant is the latest undertaking by the New Jersey rocker's Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, which has built 260 homes for low-income residents in recent years.

"With the economic downturn, one of the things I noticed was that disposable income was one of the first things that went," Bon Jovi told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday before the restaurant's grand opening ceremony. "Dining out, the family going out to a restaurant, mom not having to cook, dad not having to clean up — a lot of memories were made around restaurant tables.

"When I learned that one in six people in this country goes to bed hungry, I thought this was the next phase of the Foundation's work," he said.

It started several years ago when Dorothea Bongiovi (she uses the legal spelling of her husband's name) and Jon started helping out at a food pantry at nearby St. Anthony's Roman Catholic Church. They later moved their focus to the Lunch Break program, which feeds 80 to 120 people a day, dubbing it "The Soul Kitchen."

They brought that name with them to a former auto body shop down the street from the Count Basie Theater, where Jon and his self-titled band have played many fundraising shows for local charities.

It took a year and $250,000, but the restaurant now rivals any of its competitors in trendy Red Bank, with entrees like cornmeal crusted catfish with red beans and rice, grilled chicken breast with homemade basil mayo and rice pilaf, and grilled salmon with soul seasonings, sweet potato mash and sauteed greens, many of which were grown in the herb and vegetable garden right outside the restaurant's doors.

Bon Jovi, who has a home in next-door Middletown, is adamant about one thing.
"This is not a soup kitchen," he emphasizes. "You can come here with the dignity of linens and silver, and you're served a healthy, nutritious meal. This is not burgers and fries.

"There's no prices on our menu, so if you want to come and you want to make a difference, leave a $20 in the envelope on the table. If you can't afford to eat, you can bus tables, you can wait tables, you can work in the kitchen as a dishwasher or sous chef," he said. "If you say to me, 'I'm not a people person,' I say, 'That's not a problem. We'll take you back to Lunch Break to volunteer with those people. If you don't want to volunteer with that, we'll take you to the FoodBank."

After volunteering at one of those places, a person will be given a certificate good for a meal at The Soul Kitchen.

"If you come in and say, 'I'm hungry,' we'll feed you," Bon Jovi said. "But we're going to need you to do something. It's very important to what we're trying to achieve."

That includes making people feel part of a larger community that cares about them, while still expecting them to contribute to society at large.

"This is not an entitlement thing," Bon Jovi said. "This is about empowering people because you have to earn that gift certificate."

He and others at the restaurant want those who can afford to dine out to patronize the restaurant as well and pay what they consider market prices, or even a bit more than that, to help sustain The Soul Kitchen as a true community resource.

Bon Jovi said he is currently writing songs for his band's next album, due out in 2013, along with another typically massive Bon Jovi tour. He said many of the songs are inspired by the current economic downturn and the struggles of everyday people to make ends meet without losing hope.

In the meantime, he and his wife plan to stay active in the restaurant, where he estimates he has worked at least once a week in recent months. The Soul Kitchen is open for dinner Thursday through Saturday, and offers Sunday brunch.

How important is rolling up his sleeves and working in the restaurant to him?

"Last Friday, I was at the White House, serving on the Council for Community Solutions, got on a train, changed in the bathroom and got here in time to wash dishes Friday night," he said. "I'm the dishwasher, for real. I can't cook a lick."

- with thanks to Yahoo News and Associated Press.