Volunteer: Sheila Downing
It requires a lot of different skillsets to perform the services we offer to guests at the Community Kitchen. We have many loyal volunteers who freely give of their time and talents to help us operate the Kitchen efficiently. One of those individuals is social worker Sheila Downing.
Over the last several months, Sheila has spent much time talking to the guests at the Kitchen. A few months ago, she joined our team in a more official capacity as our new social worker. This is a volunteer position that Sheila chose to take on after retiring from her position with the Salvation Army earlier this year.
“I had been searching for a place to serve God after I retired and this is it,” Sheila says.
Before coming on board, Sheila spent hours talking to the guests who eat lunch at the Community Kitchen Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sheila knows many of them from her work at the Salvation Army and she enjoys the opportunity to stay connected to them even in her retirement years.
“God called me to serve him by serving his people,” Sheila says.
While many of the needs of our guests are financial, many are also spiritual and emotional. Sometimes Sheila serves as a good friend, one who listens to their concerns, connects them to various resources and encourages individuals and their families not to lose hope.
“The majority of the people here appreciate even the smallest things we do for them,” Sheila says. “Small things that you and I take for granted, like a smile, a touch on the shoulder or a simple act of kindness. For some, the love they find here may be the only act of kindness they ever see.”
So many of the people Sheila talks to have limited abilities that sometimes prevent them from making enough money to pay their rent and utility bills. Sheila connect guests to life saving resources such as rent and utility assistance, food, and even shelter.
“I love this place,” she says. “The Community Kitchen is inspired by God to meet the needs of his people. I truly believe that. The Community Kitchen gives guests the opportunity to see that God is real. You can’t feed the soul until you’ve fed the stomach.”