For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in… ~ Matthew 25:35
During this past Sunday’s worship service, we took a minute to celebrate the work of ECC outreach in the Bauer/Miller neighborhood, led by our Director of Community Outreach, Ronda Ooms. We also recognized and celebrated Ronda as the recipient of Tippecanoe County United Way’s 2022 Golden Gift of Time Award! You can watch the brief video shown at the award presentation here.
In light of Ronda’s award and all the great work our Thursday evening Bauer Team has been doing over the past 14 years, we asked Ronda to share a report about the work that’s been done and the people who serve so faithfully every week.
Our Community Outreach Ministry has been official since 2007 when we began our partnership with Miller Elementary School. A high percentage (90%) of families who attend Miller fall below the poverty line. In talking with school staff and others, we realized that many children and their families would benefit from a free meal during the week. In January of 2008, a team of people from ECC began to prepare and serve a homecooked meal each Thursday night at Bauer Community Center. Fourteen years later we are still serving these meals!
We have found that many of the people who frequent our meals come for a sense of community and to feel loved and cared for. We see many of the same people week after week. It’s been a blessing to get to know their names and to care for them. Many weeks we have people who just happen to “stumble” upon us and are in need of a hot meal and a caring word.
In March of 2020, when the pandemic hit, we had to rethink how to serve the meal. Since that time, we have served “to-go meals” through a drive-thru/walk-up service. It has taken many volunteers to maintain this commitment over the years and especially over the past 2+ years. I am so blessed by the people who have stepped up to go above and beyond to serve our community.
Occasionally we will receive a written thank you from one of our friends. A note from one of our regulars through Covid said: "Thank you so much for Thursday evening meals. It’s been a cold, wet, winter, made more cheerful by your warmth and kindness shown through meals, smiles, and service!" Another mom wrote: "Thank you for everything you guys have done through this whole Covid issue, from standing in the rain, to putting yourself on the frontline. THANK YOU ALL!"
I thought it would be fun to calculate some numbers just to see the impact we’ve had.
Since January of 2008, we have…
- served approximately 690 Thursdays.
- put in approximately 12,420 people hours to prepare meals
- put in approximately 1,035 volunteer hours serving meals (per volunteer)
- had approximately 15 volunteers per night (25 during Covid)
- had over 120 different volunteers
- served approximately 87,000 meals total
- served approximately 60,000 children’s meals
- served approximately 27,000 adults’ meals
- served approximately 25,800 meals during Covid
Wow! That makes me tired just looking at the numbers. None of this could happen without the many volunteers that have committed to this ministry over the years! When asked why they volunteer, people said that they "like serving others", they are "passionate about feeding the hungry", "it’s a great way to get to know other ECC people", etc.
No matter the reason they help, we are blessed by so many committed ECC volunteers!