If you have a hard day at work, and come home drained and exhausted, Bob and Donna Oderkirk know just the thing to perk you up.
Volunteer at the soup kitchen.
“I could be dragging my tail, but when I come down here at night, I’m energized,” Bob notes. “That’s when you know the Holy Spirit is at work.”
Bob and Donna love to cook, and they bring that passion to Mother Marianne’s West Side Kitchen every Thursday night, as food preparation coordinators.
With their alternating teams, they cook up batches of soups and chili to last the week, prepare meats and vegetables to go into the brews, and churn out hundreds of sandwiches. Because they prepare enough eats to last a week, they put everything into freezers. Two days before use, containers are moved to a cooler to slowly thaw, and stay fresh to the taste.
“It’s humbling to know that our gift of cooking is helping people,” says Bob. “Just quietly stirring the pot, serving in the background.”
The nighttime food preparers are usually volunteers who cannot work at the soup kitchen during the day because of their jobs.
“Some people tell us, ‘it’s a lot of work’,” Bob says. “We don’t look at it that way. There’s a purpose here, doing what you’ve been guided to do by the Lord, and not questioning it.”
Donna and Bob met with some fellow volunteers Tuesday night to take them on a tour of the facility and walk them through the food preparation process. Julie Rand saw a newspaper story about the soup kitchen and volunteered to work the second Thursday of the month. Kathy and Gordon Morrock were already pitching in, but showed up to volunteer to work the 3rd Thursday. Marilyn Schwalbach saw the “family atmosphere” occurring at lunch time and decided to commit to the 4th Thursday of the month with her husband, Dave.
“I didn’t anticipate I would get more out of it than I would give,” Marilyn notes. “I already have.”
How did Bob and Donna get involved? When they heard Deacon Gil announce he wanted to start a soup kitchen, “we looked at each other” and knew immediately the Lord was calling, Donna relates.
Bob says when he got to stop in at the soup kitchen during lunch one day, the first thing he saw was a young mom with an 8-month-old baby. He made baby-talk with the infant, and after a minute, the baby finally gave him a big smile.
“That made my whole day. What we’re doing, this is what it’s all about.”