Our former coordinator Samantha Dweck passed away on January 25th, 2015. Sam graduated from Brown in December of 2013, and was the Outreach Coordinator for BMSP for the spring and fall of 2013. Some of you may have seen her at Market Day or read one of her blog posts. Others may never have met her. Sam made an incredibly positive impact on this program and on her fellow coordinators. We miss her terribly. Below is a collection of memories we have of her that we treasure and wanted to share with everyone.
When I think of Sam, one of the first things that comes to mind is her homemade bread. This is partially because every BMSP potluck/meeting where food was involved, the rest of the team would (not so subtly) hint that we thought her bread was the most delicious thing in the entire world. She would indulge us, and somehow find the time in her schedule to make the most beautiful loaf I had ever seen, chock full of local herbs. I so admire the amount of care and intention she put into it-- it embodies the warmth and passion she brought to everything she did. I learned so much from Sam’s ability to maintain a fierce, go-get-em attitude that was grounded in such incredible kindness, sincerity and intention. I am so grateful for our shared laughs and shared meals, and having the opportunity to work with and learn from such an incredible friend. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I love and miss you.
Every time I walk down Wickenden Street (usually heading to Coffee Exchange, where Sam once worked), I pass by Sam’s old apartment and remember awkwardly climbing over the broken fence to get to the back door for Market Shares meetings. It wasn’t a big apartment, so it was a tight squeeze on the weeks we met there, when all eight of us would gather around in Sam’s living room. Some of us sat on chairs, others on couches, still others on the floor. Walking past that house now, I remember the coziness of those meetings, the warmth. Sam was an incredibly warm person - her care for the people around her was always very obvious, whether as a loaf of homemade Dutch oven bread, or a New Mexican folk art poster, or just a huge grin. Sam, thank you for sharing your warmth - with me and with so many people. You are deeply loved and deeply missed.
The first time I met Sam, we spent a Thursday morning packing green beans into 1lb bags. It was the first distribution day of summer and Sam was a volunteer on the 11 o’clock shift. Market Day chaos was all around us, but Sam told me story after story about traveling and farming in Italy. We discussed favorite recipes, summer goals, and mutual friends. Before I knew it, the hour was over, but Sam stuck around. She just said, this is where I want to be right now and continued to help out that first day and every week after. When I think about Sam I think about that first Market Day and the calmness she carried with her. I can’t crunch on a green bean without thinking about Sam and or her contagious smile. Thinking of you often and missing you all the time.
One of my favorite memories of Sam was in the winter of 2013. We drove to Lowe’s to look for a fridge and freezer for Market Shares. As we walked through the store, a couple of people approached us and asked, “how are your kitchen cabinets?” We both lived in apartments and they were clearly home renovators so I didn’t know what to say. But Sam just giggled, scrunched her shoulder, and replied, “um, fine?” About ten paces ahead, we turned to each other and both burst out laughing. “What? Did they think we were married?” She threw her arm around me to join in on the charade as we wandered around the store, giggling about why we were mistaken for homeowners. Sam had the ability to make tasks as mundane as shopping for appliances fun. Months later when we received the delivery together, she showed that skill again by hopping into the freezer to see if she could fit. Sam, thank you for bringing that to my life and to the lives of people you met. I miss you all the time but your energy and spirit are still here.
All six members of the coordinating team I was on with Sam were hired at the same time, and I was the youngest by a semester or two. I remember walking into the first meeting and being so intimidated by the five amazing, smart, talented women at the table with me. Sam in particular represented a lot that I wanted to be myself. She was in shape and even enjoyed exercising. She woke up early in the mornings and always came to meetings with stories about the people she took the time to talk to. She had the most perfect pair of grey shoes, and generally impeccable taste in all things. She was a supreme baker and bread maker.
The beginning of our first Market Day shift together was really busy, so we didn’t have a lot of time for small talk between shareholders checking in and asking questions. Eventually, however, the flow of people stopped, and Sam turned to me and said, "Hey!" We started to talk and a few phrases in I confessed nervously that I had been looking for shoes like the ones she was wearing for months. Instead of saying thanks and moving on, Sam said, “Here, let me help," started searching for info about them, put it all in an email to me and hit send.
This was the first of many moments in which Sam was equally as helpful and willing to share what she knew with me. She gave me workout tips and motivated me to move faster. She told me about her bread recipe and the types of ingredients she typically used. She showed me what it is to be kind, and always did her best to make me feel at ease as an equal part of the power team I so admired.
I think there are people in your life who have a permanent effect on you, no matter how much or how little time you get to spend with them. Sam was one of those people to me. She was a role model in all the ways I described above and many more, but she was also a teacher and a friend. I haven’t met many people who I consider to be all three and Sam excelled at all of them. Sam, I think of you often and always will. Thank you for all that you shared with me.
When I think of Sam I think of sweet potato bread, a contagious smile, the sun. I haven’t found the words to do her justice, but I have figured out that she had the type of energy that made me want to make other people feel the same way she made me feel. The vibrancy of her presence any time we shared a space - I don’t think that glow was lost on anyone. As much as I loved working with Sam in our Market Shares community, the most vivid memories I have of her are early mornings at the coffee shop where she worked, when I would stumble in half asleep to be greeted by Sam, who would hand me my drink with the biggest grin, looking like she had already conquered half the world at 7am. That’s my Sam. Thank you, Sam, for sharing your soul and love of the world with me. I’ll carry you and your glow forward, sharing it the way I know you would.
Sam’s energy and optimism knew no bounds. I remember her smile well - radiant and unapologetic. These qualities I admired most in her and they were what made her invaluable to our team. One of my happiest nights at Brown was at Sam’s house when she hosted our team for a potluck. Within seconds of arriving, the table overflowed with food. Under her roof and gorging on the bread she baked just minutes earlier, we laughed and exchanged stories. I will never forget this night, just as I will never forget you, Sam. In Conrad Aiken’s words: “Music I heard with you was more than music. And bread I broke with you was more than bread.” Rest easy, dear friend. You are always with me.