The Soup Kitchen Chef

A son whose Fridays and Saturdays are devoted to others.

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Posted in , Mar 11, 2015

Rick's son Timothy and a soup kitchen volunteer.

Let me tell you how Timothy, my 25-year-old son, spends a good part of his weekend. All day Friday he cooks, and he cooks for a large crowd. “We usually get around 200 people on Saturday at the soup kitchen,” he says. Our church’s soup kitchen.

He makes mac and cheese, short ribs, chicken, beans, rice, spaghetti, sausages, noodles, stew. On cold days it’s meant to warm the body as well as the soul. The servers are all volunteers, as is the chef, and they always say a prayer for the customers, asking God to bless the food to their use and the hands that prepared it.

Those hands that prepare the meal, they’re much blessed.

Some of the food is donated. There is a group that calls themselves the midnight marauders, and on Friday nights they go to a nearby supermarket that gives leftover food. Tim is a midnight marauder too.

But it’s those Fridays that impress me. There he is in the kitchen all day, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., on his feet, cutting, basting, stirring, baking, cooking and then washing tons of pots. 

He’s always been something of a foodie and a good cook. I might have imagined that he’d become one of those chefs you see on TV or a high-end virtuoso at some fancy restaurant, earning the big bucks.

Instead, the kitchen at church is his performance space and cooking on Fridays his starring role. Don’t get me wrong. He’s not alone. There are other volunteers and Marilyn is in charge, supervising. I would say he’s her right-hand man.

I don’t know how he got this part. There was no job interview, no audition. Like I said, he doesn’t get paid. One Friday a year ago he showed up. It fit into his work schedule. And he’s been at it ever since.

He’s got other plans for next year. He’s been accepted into a program called Young Adult Service Corps, where he expects to serve the church overseas, either in Africa or the Philippines. He’s excited about that.

And lest you think he’s too holy, like any other twenty-something, he’s got good pals he hangs out with on Friday and Saturday nights. 

It’s just his Friday days and Saturday mornings are devoted to others. He’s dedicated this year to them. He’s good at it and has learned a lot. Even if I weren’t his dad, I’d be impressed.

You never know what line of work your kid will be called to do or drawn to. What you can hope for–what thrills me about both of my sons–is they take what they do and do it with all their heart and soul. There’s the answer to a father’s prayer.

In the meanwhile, if you’re free on a Friday and close to St. Michael’s Church on 99th and Amsterdam in New York City, he could always use a hand. And volunteers are always welcome to serve on Saturday mornings. It’s good work.

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