Five years ago, a small group of people at Silvertown Baptist Church felt led to serve those in need throughout the community by opening a free soup kitchen on January 6, 2009. Through their ministry, they were able to dish out around 40 servings of soup (about three quarters of a pot) each Tuesday and Thursday at the church in the beginning. Now, just a few short years later, the ministry has grown by leaps and bounds and is able to pass out 200 servings of soup (about three pots) each time the doors are open.
What started out as a ministry of Silvertown Baptist has grown to include many other churches, businesses and organizations throughout town; some are able to donate their time, while others help out by providing the supplies needed each week. Several times a month, there is also beautiful music is provided by Genia Stowe, whom you would never know is blind by the way she is able to play the keyboard set up in the fellowship hall.
Tammy Shock, who is in charge of the soup kitchen, stated none of this would be possible without the generous donations that are received from the community and for them she is forever thankful. All of the people who work at the soup kitchen are unpaid volunteers and Shock noted it is all possible because the Lord takes care of their payroll. She feels the past five years have been a blessing to not only those who are hungry and in need of food, but also to the volunteers who come to serve.
Rusty Madden is one of the volunteers who feels blessed to have the opportunity to help others. A recovering drug addict, Madden began going to Silvertown Baptist after he got out of rehab three years ago, because he knew it was something his mother wanted him to do. However, he noted that God saved him while he was there and the church gave him so much that he wanted to be able to give something back, so he began working at the soup kitchen and has become famous for his chicken and dumplings that he makes from scratch.
Shirley Russell is another helper who loves being able to give something back to the community. She first came to the soup kitchen for a meal one day when she was unemployed and after seeing what the volunteers were doing, she knew this was something she wanted to be a part of. Russell decided to get involved and in addition to serving each week, has been able to help raise money from organizations as well as gaining gift certificates from local restaurants to be able to give something back to the volunteers. She noted she wanted to do something for her fellow volunteers as a way of thanking them for selflessly giving of their time each week. Russell stated it is the people she comes in contact with while at the soup kitchen that makes it so enjoyable to come and be a part of things.
When the soup kitchen began in 2009, Patricia Coe was one of the original volunteers to help with the venture. She stated the group just felt this was something the community needed and she is thankful for the growth they have seen over the years. One thing that has always stood out to her over the years is how people’s attitudes change after coming to the soup kitchen. Some have been very rude and gruff when they first come in and then seem to have a change of heart, turning into the nicest people around.
Shock credits the change in people to them being fed more than just food. Some of the visitors they have for lunch come because they are in need of a hot meal, and others come because they are in need of fellowship with others, both of which Shock notes are important.
“It’s a blessing for all the folks who come here, whether it is for a meal or to volunteer. The food we serve provides nourishment for their bodies, but we also provide nourishment for hearts, souls and minds. Here, we feed the whole shebang.”
Anyone wishing to help the soup kitchen go on for five more years, may make a donation to Silvertown Baptist Church designated for the soup kitchen; or may drop off supplies as well as donations for the food pantry on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the church located at 400 W. Goodrich Avenue. The Soup Kitchen is open to the entire community on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. For more information or to volunteer call 706-647-4844.
Ashley Biles can be reached by calling 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @AshleyBiles1