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A ‘belly laugh’ is hands-down the richest form of laughter to hear and feel because it is a deep, hearty laugh. It is unrestrained and full of spontaneous joy. It has the added bonus of being contagious. Not only did the sound resonate across Junction Food and Drink Hall this Thanksgiving, but also from the queue of those being served generous portions of bubbling, delicious-ness. All protocols were followed to ensure safety, but although there was physical distancing required, masks could not mask the crinkling of smiling eyes. The feeling of community created a warm connection at a time where we need each other the most.

At Yela Concepts, we don’t believe in just enriching businesses; we believe in enriching lives. We surround ourselves with people and organizations that actively live by this ethos. As such, we were deeply honored to be part of the second annual Ms Betty’s Harvest Madsgiving coordinated at our Junction Food and Drink this year. It was an immersive team effort, where keen hands helped Chef Taj and his team serve 1 955 meals and soups to a Denver community that is hurt, sad, and lost. This is, unfortunately, not a time where full bellies are a given. In fact, we are surrounded by empty bellies that bring with them even emptier hearts. The pandemic has exacerbated suffering, and we can’t merely look the other way. It is for this reason that initiatives such as Madsgiving cannot be reserved for holidays alone. We encourage our family (you) and community to look around, take cognizance, be creative, and extend a hand where help is needed. Start small, but start – #YelaJustStart.

Ms. Betty’s Cooking is a prime example of how great things take traction and balloon from small beginnings. At Yela, we are inspired by warmth, sincerity, and generosity shown in actions, not just words. Chef Taj’s story starts close on a decade ago. He found that cooking Thanksgiving dinner for only himself and his wife was more difficult than feeding his neighbors too. It quickly escalated to people knocking on their door in search of a warm, flavorsome meal. Shortly after that, the kind-hearted duo began boxing food for distribution to the needy in downtown Denver. The rest, as they say, is history. The preparing and serving of close to 2 000 meals is undoubtedly a positive endorsement of how small acts of kindness can mushroom into exponential ones.

Let’s channel the spirit of hospitality and find inspirational, creative, and playful ways to keep giving. Eating is a joy and brings people together. We challenge you to ‘just start’ – with something small. If you so choose, we’d love to take inspiration from your stories, which you can share on our social platforms utilizing #YelaJustStart.

Out of respect for the privacy of those you help, we ask that you don’t share the pictures or names of those you help. Instead, the #YelaJustStart initiative is there to inspire and share ideas with others to help their communities. When we are ‘giving’ we don’t need the ‘thanks’ – it is the action that makes us feel warm inside (just like our good food!).

We are always better together.

Yela! Yela! Let’s go!