110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
posted Oct 9, 2008 - 9:06:19am
More than 200 volunteers who have cooked and served dinners to homeless and hungry people this year at Interfaith Kitchen had the tables turned on them Oct. 3.
The volunteers had dinner served to them, to thank them for their hard work providing meals to some 15,000 people in the Downtown DeLand kitchen.
Interfaith Kitchen is in the basement of First United Methodist Church of DeLand, and is run by the Interfaith Caregivers, an ecumenical group.
The number of people seeking meals at the kitchen is growing. Lately 100 or more guests have been served each evening, four nights a week. It is, perhaps, an omen of things to come, in this time of economic downturns.
Assuring those people don't go hungry are 23 groups — mostly churches, and a few businesses and clubs. They prepare and serve meals at the kitchen on a rotating basis.
At the appreciation dinner, Ron and Lois Fritch and their crew from First United Methodist treated the volunteers to a roast-beef dinner in the church's Life Enrichment Center.
Volunteers listened to words of thanks and appreciation as they dined — from Interfaith Caregivers President Dave Evans, First United's Pastor Owen Stricklin, DeLand Mayor Robert Apgar and Amy Killgallon of Church World Service.
The program opened with special recognition for Sarah Dougherty, for her years of service to CROP Walk. A large portion of the money raised in the annual walk event in DeLand goes to the Interfaith Kitchen, and other portions pay to feed hungry people around the world.
Dougherty received a certificate of appreciation from the City of DeLand, read by Mayor Bob Apgar, along with expressions of appreciation from the Interfaith Caregivers and Church World Service.
The Rev. Art Wuertz of Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church of DeLand presented her with a Stuart Austin mantle clock on behalf of the Interfaith Caregivers. She got a standing ovation, too.
Interfaith Kitchen coordinator Denise Gilman thanked volunteers of each organization that helps support the kitchen:
AARP, Bethel AME Church, Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church, First Assembly-DeLand College Group, First Baptist Church, First Christian Church-Disciples of Christ, First Presbyterian Church, First United Methodist Church, Greater Union Baptist Church, Good Samaritan Florida Lutheran Retirement Center, Grace Chapel, Junior Service League, New Hope United Church of Christ, Plymouth Avenue Christian Church, St. Peter Catholic Church, Stetson Baptist Church, Temple Israel, Trinity United Methodist Church and AARP, all of DeLand; DeLeon Springs Christian Church and DeLeon Springs United Methodist Church; Galaxy Middle School in Deltona; and First Unitarian Universalist Church and The Beacon newspaper, of West Volusia.
Coordinator Gilman received a bouquet in appreciation for her work scheduling the organizations that work the kitchen and making sure supplies are available.
Gilman noted there's been a definite increase in clientele — from an average of 68 people per dinner last year to an average of 89 this year, about a 30 percent increase.
"We get 120-135 people a night at the end of the month," Gilman said. That's when people's Social Security or pension money is gone for the month.
She welcomes any new groups that would like to participate in serving meals, or individuals who want to assist one or more of the groups. Call her at (386) 334-4411.
Donations for the kitchen are welcome, too. Make checks payable to First United Methodist Church of DeLand, with a notation "for Interfaith Kitchen" in the memo area. Gift cards are also welcome — they help offset the costs of food for groups that work the kitchen, especially those that have trouble financing meals for the growing crowds.
With the holidays coming up, Gilman is also looking for donations of T-shirts, socks, razors and other items for men's gift baskets. More men than women who eat at the kitchen. Items for women and children are valuable, also.
Apgar noted Agape Clubhouse, which also meets at the Interfaith Kitchen and provides day shelter and services to homeless and needy people, has done an outstanding job helping people improve their lives.
After training in job and life skills at Agape Clubhouse, which is run by missionary Linda Brown, two got jobs at a dude ranch in Wyoming, and ranch operators are interested in more workers.
Along with dinner and thanks, Interfaith Kitchen volunteers were treated to music. Kevin Lord, the church's music minister, and tenor Phil Goldthwait led the crowd in inspirational songs.
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