Volunteers Give of Themselves So No One Need Go Hungry

Guest Blogger


Nov. 10-16 is Guest Blogger Week at ngumc.org. The Conference has invited leaders of Action Ministries to write about hunger issues and how NGUMC churches can and are making a difference! They'll be posting all week and you are invited to share the messages with your own church and community. Follow along on social media by using #‎ngumcHungerAction.  

Volunteers Give of Themselves So No One Need Go Hungry

By Rev. Lisa Caine
Guest Blogger 

It’s a simple fact of life that we get hungry every day. Some of us are fortunate enough to be able to buy whatever we want to eat.  Others are not so fortunate. In 1989, Oconee Street United Methodist Church partnered with Action Ministries to open a soup kitchen for those whose resources were running low and were in need of a good meal. The first day of operation there were more church volunteers than there were guests to eat the sandwiches that had been prepared. But that ratio soon changed as the word got out that there was a welcoming place that offered lunch Monday through Friday. Its name was Our Daily Bread.
Over the ensuing years Our Daily bread grew in services and in numbers of people served. The Monday through Friday lunch offering was expanded to include breakfast as well. And then a weekend program was begun to offer sack lunches, so that anyone who needed a free meal would have somewhere to go seven days a week. No proof of eligibility has ever been required to eat at Our Daily Bread. Hunger is the only requirement, and all are welcome from the mayor to the newest person in town. Although located in a church, the only sermon that is preached comes from the hospitality of those who have given their time to prepare and serve the day’s meal.
Actions speak louder than words.
In 2013, a fire consumed the sanctuary, fellowship hall, and kitchen of Oconee Street UMC. Our Daily Bread was homeless, but not for long, and not a single meal was missed in the aftermath. Breakfast on the lawn was provided for the first week by various restaurants in town. And the morning after the fire, First Baptist Church, which had regularly provided volunteers to serve meals, offered space in their church, space that is at least quadruple the space that was available at the much smaller Oconee Street facility and more centrally located in downtown Athens.
In all major religions, the faithful are required to attend to the less fortunate, to care for the widow and orphaned, the stranger in our midst. In the Christian tradition, Jesus equated caring for the hungry, thirsty and homeless with caring for him. Volunteers make it possible, volunteers who have answered the call of their holy scriptures and offered themselves for service. Our Daily Bread operates only because of the faithfulness of volunteers from dozens of religious, business and civic organizations who give not only much needed financial support, but also give of themselves so that no one need go hungry in Athens, Georgia.
Action Ministries-Athens has a dual focus: caring for the daily needs of individuals in poverty while at the same time working to lift those persons out of their fragile situation. Individual case management, money management classes and GED classes are among the efforts aimed at reducing the destructive cycle of poverty in the Athens-Clarke County area. And as people are enabled to work towards those long range goals, they know that every day there is a place that offers both a warm welcome and a warm meal to sustain them on their way.
Lisa Caine
Oconee Street United Methodist Church
Athens, Georgia

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