Like most volunteers at the Community Kitchen, Carol Beyer shies away from talking about herself, however if you ask her to tell you what she loves about the Community Kitchen she has a long list of things to share.
Every Thursday, Carol volunteers at the Community Kitchen. She preps food, serves guests and cleans dishes at the end of each lunch. She is humbled by the experience, as it reminds her each time just how blessed she is and offers her a glimpse into the lives of the guests who are served at the Community Kitchen.
“We just don’t realize, until you do things like this, with families who don’t have resources, how blessed we are,” Carol says.
Carol has devoted her life to serving others, first, as a registered nurse and nursing educator for 24 years at the Paducah Community College (now WKCTC).
“Even in my profession I guess I wanted to help people, to serve people,” she says. “This is really the same thing, just in a different fashion.”
Though retired from nursing and teaching, Carol continues to serve in various ways at the Community Kitchen. When a guest needs assistance in getting an apartment established, Carol takes an inventory of all of the individual or family’s needs. She then goes out and finds all of the furnishings and supplies needed to establish a home.
“I find out how many beds, couches, towels, sheets, cups, saucers…whatever they need. In this day and age there is so much of that stuff donated to agencies and so much thrown away. So, after I know what is needed for each family I reach out to the agencies and load it all up.”
In addition to the service of other volunteers, Carol’s husband has been a tremendous help with the loading and hauling of the furniture. He lends her his truck each time a truckload of furniture needs to be delivered.
“I could not do it without him,” she says.
Carol has been serving at the Community Kitchen for about five years. She still remembers her first encounter with the volunteers and guests.
“A friend and I read an article in the newspaper about Sally and the Kitchen. We said, ‘Let’s go and just see what it’s like. Maybe we’ll want to start volunteering there,’” she recalls.
It only took that first visit to get her and her friend hooked on volunteering at the Community Kitchen.
“The volunteers were so gracious and greeted us so warmly that we started (volunteering) the next week,” Carol says.
For those who find it intimidating to volunteer, Carol says the hardest part is taking that first step through the door. She encourages those considering volunteering at the Community Kitchen to simply stop by and have a meal first.
“Come in the door, just have a meal. You’ll see that the people behind the counter are having a great time. Come in and share a meal with the group and you’ll see there’s a great bond there. The hardest step is just coming in the door.”
The Community Kitchen could not serve meals five days a week to the thousands of people it reaches without the service of individuals like Carol.
“I consider this an extension of my faith, of my beliefs,” Carol says. “It’s in the feeding. Jesus fed all the crowds. I just don’t think anybody in our country needs to be hungry.”
For more information on volunteering with the Community Kitchen, call Sally Michelson at 270.519.9233.