By Rachel Ravina, Staff Writer
(July 4, 2019) A small act of kindness apparently goes a long way for those in need.
Several members of the Berlin Police Department have delivered bags of groceries to people unable to get to Stephenson United Methodist Church Spirit Kitchen and food bank on 123 N. Main St. in Berlin.
“A lot of them are actually in the homes all day without a whole lot of communication with other people,” Chief Downing said of the recipients of the department’s good works.
Downing, however, stressed this unofficial program is a “collaboration” between several community agencies, including the church and police department.
Vicky Nock, coordinator of the Spirit Kitchen, said she’ll often communicate with Downing about upcoming deliveries and if he knows any community members in need of a hot meal.
Downing added that department personnel have been taking food to Berlin residents in need for the past three months and have made roughly 36 deliveries. They’ve brought food to residents living at the Cottages At Berlin, but he have made deliveries elsewhere, he said.
Nock said she and other volunteers will fill boxes with groceries after receiving shipments from the Maryland Food Bank.
“They’ll take the food to … people who cant get [to the food bank], whether they’re homebound or don’t have a vehicle, and when we work together, they know people that we don’t know, because they’ve never been able to get up there too us,” Nock said.
Additionally, Downing said helping to bring food to the public is another way to forge bonds and foster relationships between law enforcement and community.
“It’s just an opportunity for us to go ahead and speak to the public when everything is OK when they don’t have problems. There’s been a lot of communication that makes it a lot easier when we do have issues or problems or concerns from them,” Downing said. “They feel comfortable talking to us because they know who … different officers are.”
Downing informed members of Berlin’s Town Council of his department’s positive progress during a meeting last Monday evening.
“We have a couple officers [that know] not to stay and take their shoes off because once they get there, a lot of those folks want to conversate and have a good time,” Downing said last week.
He also stressed the importance of discerning whether the recipients need additional assistance.
Nock said the church’s Spirit Kitchen has been open for about nine years. Volunteers of many denominations serve hot meals every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
“It’s been a good impact [on the community], I think, but I’m biased about that,” she said.
Nock added anywhere from 80 to 130 people will receive a meal on a given day, but acknowledged that attendance is often weather dependent.
“It doesn’t matter their color, where they go to church or even if they do believe, if they are believers, it’s just we don’t ask questions,” Nock said. “They just come to our door and we feed them.”
For more information on the Stephenson United Methodist Church’s Spirit Kitchen, visit the “SUMC Spirit Kitchen” Facebook page at facebook.com/SUMCSpiritKitchen/.