Karen Parnell Chair of services committee
Kathy Brown Chair of Resources planning
How long have you been involved with Friendship House and when do you volunteer?
“One of our major pieces of involvement is the monthly meal service on the third Thursday of the month. I actively recruit volunteers and get people signed up and I often volunteer myself. We have worked often with jerry shacket who has helped us to modify the menu to make it more nutritious and cut down cost, “said Karen.
Kathy has been a great help buying the supplies for us “I’ve even been asking people in the community that want to donate things like food, mugs and bowls, just things to make it nicer,” added Kathy.
What got you involved?
Kiwanis became involved with the Friendship House over 25 years ago and Karen has been involved since around 1995. Kiwanis has have been doing the hamburger supper actively since then. When she joined Kiwanis community service committee and saw the value of feeding people and how much pride that the club takes in it is when she decided to help out.
Karen went on to tell me about the main meal that they serve every third Wednesday. “We have always served grilled hamburgers with grilled onion and the cheese that they want. That has been the core menu item for almost 25 years, but we’ve modified it slightly in the past year. we went from doing the conventional white hamburger burns to the whole wheat flat bun. We’ve loped off potato chips at jerry’s, the Development and outreach manager, recommendation and we decided to add beans. We also offer fruit and different veggies that we get from the food distribution center in the summer times. we do not give soda anymore, we just give out milk or orange juice and people seem to like it better. We even offer chocolate milk sometimes and people love it. What we have really done is increased the protein of the meal and decreased the empty calories in order to feed people with more nutritious meals. We believe that this creates habits in people and shows them different choices to say that this is better than that, it will be healthier, and enjoyable. We also try to include a fresh fruit.”
What is your favorite part?
Karen said, “We love what we do. I think that my favorite part is working with the families that come through the kitchen and giving a smile to people”. Kathie’s response was “I am an animal lover and I enjoy feeding the dogs. Sometimes I take dog food and little packages I get or sometimes they are fed leftovers.”
what changes have you seen?
Karen expressed that “Changing from the old kitchen in the men’s house where the cooking used to be to the new café. it really is nice to have a larger dinning area that does a nicer job with a congregate meal, plus the beautiful herbs that they grow outside and the outside space that they have to relax in. I think that that has been a big impact. I know the architect who designed the café and I think that he did such a great job. And it’s nice to see the comradery that people have around that place.”
Kathy “one time for someone’s birthday they sang happy birthday in English and in Spanish. It was a dreary winter day but that was so heart warming to be a part of.”
The main concern that Karen spoke of was about the neighbors that were bringing up issues and some of the discussions around encouraging the idea that meals should not be served to families of the communities. “It was slightly disturbing but came out of concern for drug problems in the homeless community. some of our club members were worried that what we were doing would attract problems because we just want to help, and we are proud of what we do but if they stop serving the community then we may have to drop or decrease our services.”
How do you supply and sustain this?
Karen went on to say “We earn money at our fundraiser, the Salmon BBQ, and then allocate are funds through each club. We also bring in many club members who will bring in their spouses, their children and their friends and everybody has a ball. To keep it organized we always promote our calendar at the meetings and request that new comers get out into the neighborhood and join us. Some people due to family needs are unable to come out and volunteer. We actually have done a program with jerry shacket with a slideshow to show other members what is going on, that’s how we bring the story to the club to the people who cannot do it, but we haven’t done that in a while."
What is your biggest take away from all of this?
Karen, “For me, the biggest take away from working with low income families just keeps reminding me that there are needs out there and we need to try to help regardless and that just continues to be my take away.”
Kathy, “mine is that there is even more of a need for it today then there used to be”.
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