by Laura Matiz
The Feed the Hungry Friday Dinner Program at St James' Church offers a hearty meal every Friday night for the hungry and homeless. This past Friday, I was guest chef cooking a delicious and healthy meal for 90 guests, with the assistance of a team of over a dozen individuals. The program is led by the unstoppable Faith Fraser, who makes working in the kitchen for four plus hours a satisfying experience for all the volunteers. Because this was my fourth time as guest chef, gathering my team of volunteers was fairly easy. Friends, family, and my kid's classmates pitch in to do the work—and there is a lot to do to get ready.
St James takes pride in making all the guests at the Friday night meal feel welcomed and served. The ten large round tables are set nicely with cloth and dinnerware before the guests arrive. A group of volunteers warmly greet the guests as they come in. After everyone is seated, Faith leads the group with a grace prayer before the volunteer waiters start serving hot tea and coffee – much in demand on this cold evening. They then serve and bus the three-course meal. My main course on Friday was my version of American Goulash, sautéed string beans, and garlic bread. A salad and homemade cookies for dessert were the other two courses. The hearty meal was much appreciated by all. ...
Long after the guests have left and near the end of the clean up—and there are a lot dishes and large pots to clean—we are all exhausted, but everyone wears such a big smile. I enjoy seeing that sense of accomplishment and satisfaction on peoples faces because they know they have helped so many with a break from their daily struggles, which can seem insurmountable on these cold and windy January nights.
A big thanks to all my helpers.
Photos credits in order: Alison Weisenthal (1); Faith Fraser (2); Marie ChemasGrgas (3); Faith Fraser (4,5,6,7);