For more information on Meals by Grace, contact Suellen Daniels at (770) 889-8028 or Suellen.firstname.lastname@example.org
Suellen Daniels sat on the edge of her seat and began thinking about what she could do to help.
After hearing the speaker say there were children in Forsyth County who went to bed hungry, the longtime county resident whispered to her husband, “Not on my watch.”
“I used to drive my friends at church crazy wondering what I was supposed to be doing," she said. "Suddenly, I thought that cooking and delivering meals to hungry families was something I could definitely do.”
Daniels, an avid cook, gave it much thought and prayer. She also discussed the plan with her husband, Stephen.
Then, she sent her proposal to Jerry Dupree, the program manager of Focus on Forsyth for the YMCA, whose message had hit home that day at Grace Chapel Church of Christ.
It wasn't long after before Meals by Grace was born. Referrals of families with children who would love a home-cooked Sunday meal quickly began pouring in to the church.
“There are some families [in need] who are working as much as they can, and they fall just under the cutoff for public assistance," Daniels said. "These families have children who might otherwise go to bed hungry.”
As long as they have the manpower and resources, Daniels and her team of volunteers are committed to ensuring that will not be the case.
“Our vision statement is that God has blessed us beyond measure, even in these difficult times,” she said. “We seek to draw others into this same experience through the love of God’s family by feeding the children and nourishing their families.”
Daniels went on to say that the ministry is about much more than the food.
“We want to offer these families love, care and the knowledge that they matter,” she said.
Dupree recalled how he had shared that day with the folks at Grace Chapel just how many families and senior citizens have serious needs.
“People see Forsyth County as such a wealthy place, they do not realize how many people are hurting out there,” he said. “I try to find things to do and match them with people who have a gift for doing those things.”
Dupree added that the focus stays positive in his organization.
“We say we are giving people a hand up and not a hand out," he said. "We hope that the very same people we do help will in turn go help someone else when they are back on their feet.”
Dupree, who retired a few years ago, said his work with low-income families and senior citizens has been the most rewarding of his career.
“When I was in the corporate world, I never felt like I was doing anything very worthwhile,” Dupree said. “But by helping people and assisting people find ways they can plug in and help others, it is amazing to see what happens.”
To make the food ministry happen, Daniels said that volunteers are needed for more than preparing and delivering the meals.
“We have volunteers who manage our help lists, people who prepare desserts during the week, those who write notes of encouragement to our recipient families, and also those who donate menu items or help find resources,” she said.
Volunteers meet at 1:30 p.m. on Sundays to chop, sauté, bake, and box up the meals. Others come by later in the afternoon to deliver them.
Daniels worries about the upcoming summer months when the children in these homes will not be in school.
“There is such a great need in our county during these tough economic times,” she said.
For now, Meals by Grace prepares Sunday meals for families in need. Daniels said God will decide what the future holds.
“We want people to know that there are no strings attached with what we are doing," she said. "We are all about helping feed those in need, so many of whom are children.”
Daniels stressed that her church feels strongly that its members do whatever they can to serve others.
“One of our core beliefs is that every member is a minister, so Meals by Grace is just a small way we can fulfill that.”