Friday, February 22, 2013
Someone has to feed the sheep
“My children always had something to eat,” Rose Greene told me as she reflected on life in New York. “There was always somewhere to go to find a meal when you needed one. I’m giving back what I received with my children.”
Green is vice-president and the volunteer coordinator of Feed My Sheep of Durham, Inc. The nonprofit started feeding people when Shane Benjamin, former pastor at Asbury Temple United Methodist Church, decided to meet the needs of those living near the church in North East Central Durham. That was ten years-ago, and a group of committed believers continues to live their faith by feeding those in need of a meal.
The stress of managing a nonprofit is painted on Greene’s face. Feed My Sheep left the safety net of Asbury Temple after 8 years when the congregation merged with the Reconciliation United Methodist Church to form the New Creation United Methodist Church.
“Asbury was a part of what we do,” Greene says. “They took up an offering every 4th Sunday.”
A $38,000 grant received three years ago helped them feed senior citizens living in the hosiery mills. They fed 32 people breakfast five days a week.
Now, Feed My Sheep serves 1,400 meals each month. They feed seniors living at Henderson Towers and Oldham Mills. They also serve meals on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month for anyone looking for a meal.
They do it with four volunteer cooks. No one gets paid. They do it with no administrative office, no kitchen of their own. They are a nomadic organization, having moved from one church to another in hope of finding a permanent place to feed the sheep.
Billy Morgan works from 6:00 am until 10:30 am every day. “I have diabetes, but I’ve been doing it since we started,” he says. “It’s my way of giving back and helping people. I’ve been out there in the world. People helped me.”
Most of the volunteers are on disability or retired. It’s hard giving back when you barely have enough to feed yourself.
“Sometimes Billy may have to catch a bus,” Greene says. “I’ll get him 20 dollars.”
“I took my food stamps to buy food,” Morgan says. “We do what it takes to make sure they have something to eat.”
There have been numerous days were volunteers took food from their homes to gather enough to feed there people. It’s hard feeding people when there’s not enough money to keep pace of the needs.
It’s hard to keep the faith when there is no place to cook a meal.
They were housed at One Love Ministry until November 2011. The church moved out of the old Holloway Elementary School to their new home in North Durham. They church’s new location was outside Feed My Sheep’s target area. They weren’t asked to move with the church.
They were forced out of Mt. Calvary United Holy Church when they merged with the Light House of Faith on January 17th.
“We were in the way,” Greene says. “After painting everything in our area. We cleaned, mopped, got a dumpster. After doing all of that, we were given 10 days to leave.”
Money was disbursed from Crop-Walks funds by DCIA during their annual dinner. Feed My Sheep paid their debt with the Food Bank. Now they’re doing the best they can to get enough money to feed the sheep each week.
It gets old robbing Peter to pay Paul.
“We need a home,” Greene says. “We’re doing the best we can to feed people who are unemployed and seniors who can’t eat.”
The vision of Feed My Sheep is a simple one. It’s rooted in an old story of a man who admonished his followers to feed the sheep. He took them to a mountain where he blessed fish and bread to feed thousands of people. Feeding both their spirits and body came with being a disciple.
“It’s been hard over the past few years,” Greene says. “We keep doing what is needed to feed people.”
You would think a church in Durham would have space to feed the sheep. Greene and the other faithful volunteers keep cooking those meals. They refuse to give up.
Someone has to feed the sheep.