This ministry was begun in 1991 by Ann Quick who saw a need for the homeless people of Olympia to need a place to retreat from the rain and cold. She secured a room at the Senior Center and started serving ramen noodles in a Styrofoam cup. This ministry turned into the Dei Shelter. Ann retired in 2000 and George/Diana Gundersen and Anne Griffin took charge of the program. This group retired around 2016 and Carol Pedigo took over. Dee Dee took over the Crew Chief in 2018. Bill Funk became the Co-Crew Chief in January of 2019. It was March of 2019 that the pandemic showed up. For health reasons, folks who were over 65 yrs of age were asked to not work. We went from 670 volunteers to 35 with 3 of them being from Gloria Dei. Tomas Ruiz, Bill Funk, and Dee Dee Smith continued through the summer with Denise and Grant DeGarmo joining in August. We increased our numbers from 146,521 in 2019 to 220,000 in 2020. The CK served out of the garage door at the Salvation Army at 824 5th Ave. SE, Oly, teams went out to serve at the camps, the mitigation small houses near the bus station, individual meals for homeless people quarantined in hotels, youth center for 12-24 yr olds, and meals for Drexel/Vet housing/homeless shelter. Additional funding was provided for pandemic relief help. Jane Scott took on Co- Crew Leader in 2023 and is an asset to the program with all her expertise in food service.
Currently the Community Kitchen is run by Catholic Community Services. Food is purchased by them, obtained from the Food Bank through special programs, from bread stores, and other pantries. In the summer fresh food comes from St. Martin’s gardens and other gleaning. The name was changed to Community Kitchen to better represent the now 370 volunteers of all faiths, practices, and ethnic groups who staff the kitchen. Our Gloria Dei Lutheran Church CK group has been providing Friday lunch meals every week since 1991 for Olympia. Due to funding being cut, we are still serving out of the garage door and not providing seating for our guests. Our group arrives at 900 and begins preparation of lunch (main meal, prep salad, prep vegetable, prep fruit and bread product), cutting/chopping for future meals, making 32 sandwiches to take to Drexel Housing Area, and a variety of other jobs. Lunch is served from 11-12 with clean up after taking a half an hour. We averaged 110 meals a day in 2023 serving a total of 5698 in the year. We serve our meals from a makeshift line behind the garage door on a table. The cookie brigade provides our desserts. You don’t need a food handler’s card to work at the CK and can sit while cutting/plating food.
We can always use volunteers both regular and substitutes. If you are interested in coming down to help out, please contact Dee Dee Smith, Crew Leader at 240-599-6317 or firstname.lastname@example.org. She will be happy to answer any questions about this ministry.