A weekly meal helps in the quest for a dimploma

By Vicki Hyatt | Nov 17, 2012
Photo by: Vicki Hyatt The Rev. John Daniels of First Baptist Church in Waynesville, addresses students at the Alternative Learning Center during a pre-Thanksgiving dinner held at the church.

When Sue Wilson and her Bible study group at First Baptist Church in Waynesville learned about the Alternative Learning Center and their needs, their first thought was “we can help.”

Specifically, the group decided since there was no school cafeteria, they could assume the responsibility of serving the students and staff one meal a week. And that's exactly what they have been doing.

The ALC is a part of the county school system that helps students who have dropped out of school complete the requirements for graduation. The program offers flexibility as many of those enrolled have outside jobs or have less than ideal home or living conditions. That often means meals can be hard to come by and not that affordable.

Wilson, who is chairwoman of the church’s missions committee, said the church’s cook, Marge Farrell, helps out a lot, providing leftovers from the Wednesday church meal and helping with preparation. But on other occasions, the group members prepare meals for 25 or so on Thursdays, or even bring in pizza.

Caroline Williamson of the ALC said the meals are fantastic,

“It’s not just your normal fare,” she said. “There’s fresh salad and chicken ala king. First Baptist Church is a real blessing.”
On occasion, the group will put together a cookout or picnic, where there’s plenty of chance to interact with the youth. During the regular lunches, however, the two groups mostly just exchange pleasantries — one group serving and the other group feeling special because of it.

“I really appreciate the church bringing in food,” said J.J. McPherson, who can’t always be present because of his job.

While his favorite dish is lasagna, the Thanksgiving feast served at the church last week would be hard to beat.

For the special meal, the group prepared turkey and all the trimmings, topped off with sweet tea and apple pie.

Bible group members include Wilson, Rev. John Daniels, Nancy Arrants, Marguerite Metcalf and Peggy Lewis.

This small group is part of the “Village People,” a cluster of individuals that has made a commitment to reach out to the students at ALC to help the students earn their diploma. Member organizations of the Village People meet monthly to share resources and ideas.  “Members are mentors, help with the clothes closet at ALC, provide food to families in need, or just share ideas and resources,” Williamson said. “We also have 48 committed businesses who are willing to provide internships and work experience. First Baptist's contribution has addressed a huge need, which is nourishment, something that is important for academic achievement.”

Williamson said ALC would welcome the help of another organization or church that might want to provide lunch once in awhile.

To become involved, contact Williamson at 454-6590 ext.106, or email her at Caroline cwilliamson@haywood.k12.nc.us.

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