King Holiday By
Helping At Local
BY SARAH GREGORY
"An individual has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow horizons of his particular individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.
"Every person must decide, at some point, whether they will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.
"This is the judgment. Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'" -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in a sermon, Sunday, Aug. 11, 1957.
These famous words of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. became the catalyst for concrete action at Tabernacle Mission Soup Kitchen on Monday when approximately two dozen individuals gave their time and energy to others on this year's Dr. Martin Luther King Day of Service.
"MLK Day of Service," as the third Monday of each January has come to be widely known, honors the late minister and civil rights leader as the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service.
At Tabernacle Mission, volunteers spent several hours cleaning, conducting inventory, and organizing the soup kitchen facility, located in the lower level of Tabernacle Presbyterian Church, at 715 Wesley Ave.
Tabernacle Mission is the only soup kitchen in Greeneville and Greene County. Volunteers say it serves 100 or more people each week.
The soup kitchen is open every Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., but it was forced to close last Wednesday as a result of flooding.
'FOOD SUPPLY NOT DAMAGED'
Several inches of standing water made it into storage and office areas when clogged gutters and downspouts caused drainage issues for the facility during the heavy rains last week.
"Fortunately, we did not have damage to our food supply," said Rachel Edens, director of the Center for Civic Advancement at Tusculum College and member of the Soup Kitchen Advisory Committee.
After the flooding, Greeneville Realtor and soup kitchen volunteer Jack Abee put together a crew to pump out the water, conduct clean-up, and clear out clogged guttering.
Those assisting in continued clean-up efforts Monday included volunteers from Tabernacle Presbyterian, Timber Ridge Presbyterian and First Presbyterian churches, First Baptist Church, St. James Episcopal Church, and Tusculum College, as well as friends and neighbors from the community.
Fortunately, food service at the mission had to be interrupted for only one week and will be available to those in need again this week.
"I just really want to thank the volunteers who helped at the mission today," said Gene Maddox, president of the George Clem Multicultural Alliance (GCMA) and an elder at Tabernacle Presbyterian.
Maddox called volunteers together to introduce one individual in particular.
"Carolyn Aikens started the soup kitchen about six years ago after seeing the need in the community," he said.
"Hunger in our community is a pressing need," said Edens, who coordinated a group of student volunteers from Tusculum College. "It resonates with our students."
She added, "being the only soup kitchen in Greeneville and Greene County is a real challenge because a lot of our clients don't have transportation."
NEED FOR VOLUNTEERS
Currently, the most pressing needs for Tabernacle Mission are volunteers to staff the soup kitchen's outreach each week, and in-kind donations.
"What we're attempting to do is get people on a schedule," said Edens. "If there are groups that want to come and volunteer, I can schedule them as far out in advance as they would like."
"We are really trying to get people on a donation schedule as well," she added. "If someone would like to adopt the soup kitchen and, for instance, provide paper products for a month -- we're trying to put people on a schedule like that."
"The need is here," said Joyce Doughty, GCMA vice president and soup kitchen volunteer -- "the need for food and for supporting people in the community and the other food banks."
OTHER SERVICE PROJECTS
Edens also noted that an additional 30 to 40 students from Tusculum College were volunteering on MLK Day of Service with projects at Greene County Habitat for Humanity, the Boys & Girls Club of Greeneville & Greene County, Carver Recreational Center in Johnson City, and with home repairs for the needy.
"That's one of the biggest points," she added. "It's not just about us at the soup kitchen. All of the service providers in our area are in need of help."
"The need is greater in winter months and at the end of each month," Edens said.
Those who would like to help the soup kitchen's mission by volunteering or making in-kind or monetary donations may contact Rachel Edens by e-mailing (firstname.lastname@example.org) or calling her office at Tusculum College at 423-636-7300, extension 5216.