During the holidays, many are looking for ways to volunteer and give back to those in need. East Lansing’s Haven House provides emergency housing and support services for families, and it relies on volunteers to prepare the meals for residents. WKAR’s Katie Cook stopped by on a Saturday to talk with some of these volunteers.
The smells of meat and vegetables filled the kitchen at Haven House, as volunteers Kenneth Brewer and Jackie Adams bent down to peer into the oven.
“Now I’m fixin' to double check this jambalaya here and make sure we’re on the right track,” says Kenneth.
He peels back the foil on the large pan of rice, sausage, roasted chicken, onions and and red and green peppers.
“About another 15 minutes we’ll be good.”
Kenneth and Jackie attend Morning Star Church in Lansing. The church has been helping prepare meals for Haven House for a couple of years now, on the second Saturday of every month.
“We try to create a meal that we would actually cook at home ourselves. A wholesome meal, full, make sure we keep the kids in mind and stuff like that,” says Kenneth.
Haven House is a shelter that helps homeless families with children prepare for permanent housing. Every night the shelter provides a dinner for residents, which is always cooked by volunteers.
“I like to give them something real different. So they’ll say ‘I never ate this before!’" Kenneth laughs. "I’m from down South, so it begs that it’s a lotta down south cooking.”
“A lot of soul in it," says Jackie. "And a lot of love, we put a lot of love in our food, that’s what makes it good!”
Kenneth says Jackie is the one who first had the idea for Morning Star to volunteer at Haven House. She says she just wanted to reach out and help others.
“That’s what we’re supposed to do as Christians, and we are representing our church. And we’re supposed to feed those that are hungry and help the sick and the elderly, so that’s what we want to do.”
She says it’s especially important to reach out during the holiday season, and she urges everyone to think of how they can give back.
“It’s better to give than to receive, you know? And this time of year there’s something that’s gonna spark you to think of something sad, and we just want to give joy and happiness to everybody. So, I would say just out of the kindness of your heart, just as you have received, why don’t you give?”
And Kenneth agrees. He does it to give back, but also because it cheers him up.
“I tell you, when I leave here, no matter how I come in, I come out always feel better than when I came in.”
He invites anyone to join them to experience it for themselves.
“You don’t have to be from our church, anybody can come in and volunteer. If you’re just sitting around bored… cause a lot of people get bored. A lot of people get depressed. Hey, you know how I beat that? I come here. Just come on in, every second Saturday of the month from 3:30 to 5:30 ish, couple hours, it makes you feel good. It fills you up like… like a big bowl of gumbo!”
If you’d like to join Jackie, Kenneth, and others who prepare meals, contact Chequoya at Haven House at (517) 337-2731 or firstname.lastname@example.org.