Hungry, dirty, tired, emotionally and spiritually bankrupt, that’s who we serve. Crossroads Mission is a “Rescue” mission. We are 911 for the homeless and the addicted. We are emergency responders for the people who have lost their way and are entrapped by drugs, alcohol, homeless, joblessness, and mental illness.
With the all of the departments, programs and services that help people make changes to their lives; the kitchen is the center-point of change. The day begins early for kitchen staff—4 AM as a matter of fact! Clients who are enrolled in the Joy of Being Sober (JOBS) training program arrive shortly after that and so the day begins. Breakfast must be prepared and is serviced at 6 AM; followed by lunch at 11:30; followed by dinner at 4:45 PM; the kitchen closes after cleanup at 7 PM. Shift changes, meal preparation, donations being dropped off, equipment breaking down, constant cleanup and anything else that happens are just a “few” of the events that happen during any day. It’s amazing what can go on in the 5 hours that the kitchen is open. We like to call it “controlled chaos”!
The kitchen staff takes pride in serving hot, nutritious meals. While they prepare the meals, we are often blessed with donations that help us stretch our food budget. Once a month, the women at Saint John Newman make delicious sandwiches of egg salad, ham, PBJ, and a variety of other sandwich fillings. They bring 500 sandwiches at one time! There’s another group of ladies from several local churches that come in to help with the dinner meal one time a week. Churches, clubs like Rotary, organizations, and others drop off leftovers from potlucks and events that they have held or come as a group to volunteer. Local school clubs and other youth organizations or church youth groups will bring in 10 to 60 volunteers at a time. The 4-H groups, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts can often be seen serving, prepping food, or cleaning in the kitchen. Sometimes former clients just drop by to “touch base” with where the change in their life started and help in the kitchen. Volunteers from States across the United States drop in; volunteers from other countries like Canada and Mexico often come to help us. Many of the people we serve volunteer to help in the dining room because they are so grateful. We appreciate everyone who helps us in any capacity.
Last Friday, I was walking through the kitchen and seeing all the action. Earlier that day, I recalled hearing Leticia, the kitchen coordinator, encouraging someone who didn’t know what to do in their program. Shortly after that, she was firmly saying, “no one works without a hairnet or gloves”. She watches over that kitchen like she watches over her 5 children—firmly but lovingly.
Now there were 4 volunteers working quickly, shredding meat that would be delivered to a local club for their food booth at the fair. The meat was delivered late and we were behind. Dinner was prepared and was staying warm in the oven. Someone was cleaning counter tops. Another person was sweeping. A volunteer was washing pots and pans. Another was putting dishes in the dishwasher. Volunteers were in the pantry sorting out food and putting it on shelves or getting it packed to go to the warehouse. The doorbell was ringing letting us know that someone was there with a food donation. Men were standing at the serving line ready for the words “let’s do this!” Someone was in the walk-in refrigerators cleaning and putting the dates on the food. I smiled to myself because in all the chaos, clatter, chatter, and hard work going on, we were getting ready to do what we do best; start at the very heart of a person who is down and out by serving them dinner. We were being of service to the community.
We believe that we serve Yuma County by helping those “at the Crossroads of their life” and we take that very serious. It’s the work that God has given us to do. It’s our ministry! We believe that we cannot lead people to know Jesus Christ as their Savior when they’re hungry, tired or discouraged. The kitchen is the hub for all the services at Crossroad.
As I was walking out of the kitchen, I heard Randy, the chef, in a soft, genuine tone, telling everyone what a great job they were doing and how much he appreciated their help. Yes, it was a typical day at the hub of the mission!