First United Methodist Church celebrated its 25th anniversary of serving in The Kitchen with tablecloths, a few words commemorating the founder and recognizing volunteers for their selfless service.
Sam Guimond, a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Warner Robins, started the soup kitchen, now called The Kitchen in August 1990 at First UMC because it had the kitchen facilities necessary to start the program, according to Cynthia Parker, coordinator of The Kitchen.
Although Guimond passed away in 2008, The Kitchen is still up and running thanks to volunteers from Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Green Acres Baptist, First UMC and a variety of military groups who rotate the duties on a calendar, according to Parker. The Kitchen is open on Mondays and Fridays and serves anywhere from 45 to 90 people on each of those days. The meals are made from donations of food and money from different churches, groups and individuals.
First UMC Pastor Ken Morgan said he tries to come and help serve in The Kitchen at least once a month and shares a short devotion and blesses the food, and oftentimes he is the one who gets a blessing.
“I just enjoy this ministry, the heart of the people who serve,” he said. “I enjoy the friends I make at the soup kitchen ... when folks come here; they feel safe, loved and cared for ... and the grace of Jesus.”
In addition to being a blessing to those who come to get a meal, Morgan said he is blessed to get to be able to share his own needs with them as he gets to know them and often asks them to pray for him as well, which they are happy to do.
“Everybody who serves sees a great blessing,” he said.
Guimond’s children, Cindy Kinser and Steve Guimond, were in attendance at The Kitchen on Friday, and said their father worked with the program for approximately 20 years before he passed away. They said they feel blessed he left such a great legacy.
“I really would like to give thanks to the people who kept it going for 25 years ... the credit goes to them,” said Kinser, who added that she and her daughter may start volunteering with the program.
Steve Repella, 71, who has lived in Warner Robins most of his life, said that he has been coming to The Kitchen since the flood of 1994. He said that although the program used to be on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and has since cut back to two days a week, The Kitchen has “good meals here,” and it helps him to save a little bit of money.
“I really enjoy it,” he said.
Repella said he lives primarily on social security, which does not leave him much money for meals.
He enjoys the food and the atmosphere where they talk about the grace of Jesus.
Anthony Leon Andrews, 48, who has been in Warner Robins since 1981, said he has been coming to The Kitchen since 2003. He works part-time and mainly on the weekend working on sheetrock in the area.
He too has been blessed by the program and said eating at The Kitchen twice a week helps him to save a little money to pay bills.
“It’s fast service healthier food, healthier audience,” he said, adding that he enjoys the religious atmosphere where they preach about Jesus and encourage people to stay on the straight and narrow path. “It’s clean ... they teach about The Vine, which is Jesus ... and (how) your heart becomes pure, becomes righteous.”
Larry Buchanan, 67, who has lived in Warner Robins since the age of seven, said it is convenient for him to come to The Kitchen. He also enjoys the fellowship and the idea of not having to always eat his own cooking.
“The food is always good ... I don’t know if I ever get a thing from the house of the Lord that isn’t good,” he said.