Good Neighbor - May 2021
- by Wendy Sullivan
The King’s Kitchen is the only free meal program in Hancock County. Pastor Connie Lyons demonstrates her commitment to care for this community in which she was born and raised. Pastor Michael Ramsey actively encourages The King’s Kitchen to focus on the spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of those in reduced circumstances.
Entering The King’s Kitchen, one immediately notices the sweet touches of seasonal flower arrangements, welcoming volunteers with smiles in their eyes, and homey decorative touches.
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The pandemic restrictions required the Kitchen to adapt over the past year. Over 100 people depend upon them for meals six days a week. Last March, the staff and volunteers developed a plan to continue the ministry with take-away meals. Participants are still greeted warmly by volunteers and staff.
This is no ordinary soup kitchen. Meals are healthy and reflect regional preferences. In the past month, red beans and rice, crawfish etoufee, turkey gumbo, fried chicken, and smoked brisket have all been served. Salad and other sides accompany the dishes. Desserts are finishing touches to satisfying meals.
The meal is often supplemented with hygiene products. They have a supply room for male and female hygiene products as well as diapers. Easy-to-carry hygiene care kits are created specifically for men and women. During cold and wet weather, blankets are provided to those without adequate shelter.
The volunteers and staff have been exceptionally busy preparing to reopen their free clothing closet called “The Clothesline.” They have been painting shelves, sorting donations, identifying specific needs, and developing procedures.
Pastor Mike spoke about an ongoing need for men and women’s clean, slightly worn, summer and gym shoes. Walking is the only means for transportation for many of the participants, so shoes quickly are worn out. The Clothesline storage is full now except for shoes. They anticipate they will need clothing donations to resume over the next couple of months.
There is an entire room devoted to children’s clothes, including school uniforms (always a welcome donation). Clean, gently worn clothing is available in most children’s sizes.
The Clothesline also has a styling station where participants can get their hair cut and styled. They are looking to add a shampoo bowl. Volunteers met with participants to assist with clothing selection and provide styling guidance. Men and women in need of outfits for job interviews find the guidance reassuring for their preparation to reenter the workforce.
The Clothesline is scheduled to reopen on May 18. It will be a soft opening with appointments available on Tuesdays and Thursday. Appointments can be made on The King’s Kitchen Facebook page or by requesting an appointment during meal hours.
Future projects include:
- a recreation area
- a sewing room
- social work assistance
- a hygiene station which will have a washer and dryer as well as showers.
They have a washer and dryer already. Pastor Connie explained that due to funding limitations, they are looking for volunteer licensed plumbers and electricians to complete the showers and room.
The King’s Kitchen is a community effort with contributions of time, talents and resources coming from all ages and corners of our society. Their oldest volunteer is in her 80s while elementary youth groups also regularly assist.
Some of the recent volunteer groups included students from St. Stanislaus who served meals, painted shelves in the Clothesline and organized the food pantry. The Boys and Girls Clubs donated crawfish from their fundraiser. Local businesses supply face masks. County Rotary Clubs donate meals which they prepare and serve. The Master Gardener Community Garden donates fresh produce as it is harvested.
In addition to sweat equity and supply donations, the King’s Kitchen welcomes financial contributions. As a 501(c)3 organization, all donations are tax-deductible.
Meals are served Monday through Saturday 11:30 am – 1 pm at their location, 2005 Longfellow Road (off Highway 90). Pastor Connie and Pastor Mike both spoke with passion about the program, the components of the program and their desire to reach out to those in need. For more information, to volunteer, share their story or for appointments for the Clothesline, stop by The King’s Kitchen or follow their Facebook page.