Bookmark and Share

Loaves and Fishes: Four years of community service

Loaves and Fishes of Archuleta County is in its fourth year of operation and first year under the direction of a volunteer board of directors.

Loaves and Fishes serves a free lunch to the community every Thursday at the Parish Hall from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Everyone is invited to participate in a homemade hot meal and the fellowship of mealtime.

This year, the number of people served has increased dramatically. An average of 250 meals are being served each and every week which includes the meals that are delivered to in-bound residents and requests for take out plates. Several weeks during this year, more than 300 meals were served.

An enormous coordinated effort is behind Loaves and Fishes, all the work done by volunteers. First, is the coordination of provisions and volunteers. Next are those who prepare, cook and serve meals every Thursday. Daily, there are volunteers who pick up food donations from City Market and take them to the frozen, refrigerated and shelf storage facility that’s been created. Finally, there is the board of directors that manages the entire program, which now includes participation in the Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado.

Terry Schaaf has been the volunteer and provision coordinator for the entire year. She has ensured that there is a volunteer group to chair each Thursday meal, keeps inventory of the donated food and supplies, and determines what needs to be purchased to supplement each meal preparation and service. Gale Martinez will take over this position in 2010. The board is seeking another volunteer, so the volunteer and provision coordination jobs can be shared by two individuals.

Responsibility for weekly meal service is shared among faith-based organizations, service and non-profit groups and a few individuals in the community. Five local churches take regular turns with meal service: Immaculate Heart of Mary, Centerpoint Church, St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The service and non-profit organizations that have hosted include Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club, Women’s Civic Club, Habitat for Humanity, and LASSO. Jane Lomasney, Muriel Cronkite, Marlene van Thillo and Mary Anne Montoya volunteer as chief cook when needed. Additionally, there is a battery of regular volunteers who show up weekly to assist with the setup, service, dishwashing and cleanup, and who do the daily food pickups at City Market.

The volunteer board of directors includes Richard Miller, president; Jane Lomasney, vice president; Bob and Dahrl Henley, treasurer and secretary; Rev. Carlos Alvarez, Muriel Cronkite, Bill and Nancy Crouse, Pastor Don Ford, Gloria Haines, Gale Martinez, Rev. Doug Neel, Terry Schaaf and Pastor Bruce Stevens.

The organization has completed the necessary governing documents and is prepared to file for official non-profit status with the IRS, which will enable Loaves and Fishes to apply for grant funding and give tax deduction credit for private donations.

Planning is underway for 2010 and anyone who would like to volunteer or make a monetary donation should call Terry Schaaf at 731-5744. All members of the community are invited to participate in this weekly meal, and a special Thanksgiving menu will be served on Nov. 19. No meal will be served on the Thursdays of Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve.

The mission statement of this corporation, Loaves and Fishes of Archuleta County, Colorado, serving as a faith-based and community-based organization, is to provide nutritious meals in a safe, warm, and caring environment, free of charge, to anyone who comes seeking nourishment and fellowship. And further, the mission is to provide access to community services and resources to those in need, while providing opportunities for volunteers to give of themselves in service to others.