Members of the Island’s Episcopal Church of the
Annunciation volunteer each Thursday at
Our Daily Bread. Here, from left to right,
Bill Wait, Don Lind, Sue Wait and Julie Lind
chop vats of fruits and vegetables.
SUN PHOTO/LAURIE KROSNEY
About 300 people will sit down to a Thanksgiving feast this week at Our Daily Bread – a special meal of turkey, cranberries, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans and bread.
It’ll be a little bigger and a little more festive than the hot meal served to the homeless the other 364 days of the year.
And as usual, Penny Goethe, Our Daily Bread’s kitchen manager, her assistant and an army of volunteers will be working to bring the tasty, healthy and nourishing meal to the tables at the soup kitchen in the new facility at the One Stop Center in Bradenton.
“We just couldn’t get this all done without all of our volunteers,” Goethe said. “They’re a godsend.”
Four of the regular volunteers at Our Daily Bread are members of the Island’s Episcopal Church of the Annunciation.
Bill and Sue Wait and Don and Julie Lind show up faithfully at the kitchen each Thursday from mid-April through the end of October, when winter residents take over the Thursday shift.
“We have so much to be thankful for,” said Julie Lind. “I just feel so blessed that I want to give back. This is my way of doing it.”
“With all we have to enjoy, with all we have to be thankful for, it just seems like we should do what we can to help other people,” Don Lind said.
So each Thursday, the Waits and the Linds show up at about 8:15 a.m., don their aprons, including one that asks, “Have You Hugged an Episcopalian Today?” gather around a steel table and chop fresh fruits and fresh salad ingredients each and every week.
“We chop everything very small,” Wait said. “That’s the way Mary trained us. Some of these people have issues with their teeth.”
Mary DeLazzer was the kitchen manager of Our Daily Bread for more than 20 years. A drunk driver killed her the day after Thanksgiving last year.
Her presence at Our Daily Bread remains strong, not just in the way volunteers cut the fruit and vegetables, but also in the way that Goethe and her assistants cook and run the entire operation.
“She was the heart and soul here,” Goethe said. “She was tough, but she loved everyone and cared about them.”
Goethe said she hears Mary’s voice at every turn, and it helps her to remember.
There’s a mission statement for Our Daily Bread, and it’s one that employees, board members and volunteers alike take seriously:
“The mission of Our Daily Bread is to provide for the nutritional needs of the poor and needy of our community in the context of compassion and affirmation of their human worth as children of God.”
And that compassion and affirmation is everywhere.
“You know, it’s one of those ‘there but for the grace of God’ things,” Sue said.
“All kinds of people find themselves homeless,” Julie added. “It could happen to anyone in any walk of life. We need to care for each other.”
“Thanksgiving is the one time of year that nearly everyone gives thanks for their blessings,” Don Lind said. “But really, we should all give thanks every day.”
That’s the kind of talk you hear around the table as the Linds and the Waits chop away.
“Sometimes we come in, and there doesn’t seem to be enough fresh fruit,” Julie said. “Then the truck comes in, and it’s full of just what we need for the fruit or for the salad. The Lord provides.”
And just as the fresh fruit on hand was all cut up with only about half the bowl filled, the truck arrived with huge quantities of fresh fruit, multiple loaves of bread and trays and trays of tasty deserts, which staff member Ali unloaded and carried into the building.
Our Daily Bread has a truck that makes stops at Sweetbay and Albertson's stores for fruit and vegetables just past their prime. Area markets, including Publix, contribute bread and bakery items.
“We couldn’t do what we do without the help of the supermarkets,” Goethe said. “And we get help from area churches and individuals, including the Island."
While the chopping continued in the back room, Michael Durrance, a staff member, was making the lunch entrée in a huge cooker 5 feet long by about 4 feet wide and 3 feet deep.
Other volunteers came in and set up the trays withentrees, desserts and salads. A table full of bread was set up in the dining room. Each client could take two loaves with them after lunch. Some bags of salad greens were also available for takeout.
Then the doors were opened, and the clients came in, some with small children in hand for their one hot meal of the day.
Our Daily Bread always needs contributions to help it purchase what it can’t get free. It also needs volunteers.
To find out how you can help, call Our Daily Bread at 745-2992.
“It’s a miracle, really, that our community can feed all these people every day,” Lind said. “I hope everyone will think about giving back a little when they sit down to their Thanksgiving dinners.”