“I appreciate the opportunity to serve,” Bob said when asked why he volunteers at the Marian House Soup Kitchen (MHSK), “having your own personal ministry that you’re comfortable with, that you’re not ashamed of…that’s important.” Bob was inspired by Pastor Peel of First Lutheran Church to cultivate a personal ministry, which he found at MHSK.
In 2000, Bob joined the volunteer group from First Lutheran that had been coming on Fridays for several years. 16 years later, Bob is the kitchen lead every Friday. Bob’s leadership skills, from working as a CFO for multiple companies as well as serving on the Board of Directors for the Center for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (now TESSA), are put to use in the kitchen. He can be found at MHSK on Thursday afternoons, surveying the stock of food to plan the meal for the following Friday.
“The managers allow us to be creative,” Bob stated, “part of the love doing the cooking is the challenge to make something good out of what we have.” He returns to the kitchen early Friday morning to direct his crew, “You have to be recognized to be on the varsity before I let you do certain things. And then we have the junior varsity. And if they really screw up, I put them back on the intramural team.”
He proudly describes a system he and his predecessor established years ago that remains a standard each Friday. Each week, six volunteers take home a donated turkey to bake at home. The six pre-cooked turkeys are brought back to MHSK to serve in a special turkey casserole every Friday, which Bob notes clients look forward to. This system allows for volunteers to participate, even if they can’t make it to MHSK for the volunteer shift.
As a longtime volunteer, Bob recollects the transition from the old MHSK building to the new one in 2008. He appreciated the opportunity to work with the lead cooks from other churches that prepared the meal throughout the week. Bob recalls how the cooks stood together when they were told MHSK operations would have be put on hold during some of the construction, “We said, ‘No we’re not. We’re going to make it work.’ And we did it over a weekend.”
At home, Bob enjoys cooking, but emphasizes that he is the sou chef to his wife, the true head cook. While he and his wife have their own personal volunteer efforts, they respect each other’s needs and are very supportive of one another. Ultimately, Bob’s passion for his work at MHSK stems from his belief that everyone should have access to a warm, nutritious meal, “That concept is important to me. They know that they can always get a hot meal and they know they can always see a smiling face.”