The Friendship Kitchen, an outreach ministry of North Parkersburg Baptist Church, celebrated an outstanding 10 years of serving the Mid-Ohio Valley community on May 8. Many of our guests attending that day have been here since the doors first opened on May 7, 2002. A group of teenagers and their teacher from Jackson Junior High volunteered and the same love and enthusiasm that we witnessed in the beginning was also experienced 10 years later.
The God-inspired dream is exactly what its name implies: A safe and friendly environment for those who find themselves alone in some way. No matter where people have come from or where they are going, the Friendship Kitchen warms the heart with a good meal, happy conversation, hope for the future and beautiful Christian inspiration.
Since opening the doors, the countless volunteers have served more than 200,000 meals, not including the thousands of take-out meals delivered every day. The doors are opened at 9:30 a.m. every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, when people can come in for a cup of coffee, read the newspaper and socialize. Lunch for an average of 150 people is served from 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The kitchen is supported completely by donations and staffed by volunteers who understand and demonstrate a servant's heart. There are numerous merchants in the Parkersburg, Marietta and Belpre areas that have given food donations and overwhelmed us with their outstanding generosity and continued support.
As the Friendship Kitchen cares for others, we are fulfilling God's plan for His people. This small building houses the opportunity to practice what we preach: "To be a community of believers where, no matter who you are, you can experience life change through Jesus Christ." In addition to meals, the ministry provides and opportunity for volunteers to teach job-seeking skills as well as general life skills. Many of our "Friendship" patrons have been able to find work or be inspired to go back to school and get their GED.
The Friendship Kitchen can always use volunteers. From teenagers to retirees, we need people to help with cooking, serving, cleaning, drivers to pick up people and those gifted in conversation or the art of listening with an ear of compassion. With Christ as our role model, all of us can make a difference, one person at a time, restoring respect, dignity and a sense of belonging.