Locals 2020: Beth Newkirk serves up meals and smiles through St. Michael’s Community Kitchen
Should you ever take a stroll into St. Michael’s Community Kitchen during the week, there’s a good chance you’ll see Beth Newkirk hard at work in the kitchen, preparing meals for those in need with a warm heart and a hearty smile.
When Newkirk and her husband moved from Indiana to Craig eight years ago, she found herself slowly getting involved in the community kitchen. Since then, she’s become a key cog in the engine that is St. Michael’s Community Kitchen, which churns out nearly 800 meals a week for shut-ins, residents at assisted living centers and others in need.
“I love helping people and seeing a smile brought to their face,” Newkirk said. “In the last year or so, I’ve truly felt a calling, like this is where I need to be and what I need to be doing; it’s given me a purpose in life.”
That purpose in life for Newkirk has led to her impacting a number of lives in the community through her countless hours preparing meals each week, to then delivering those meals and spending time with shut-ins throughout the community.
Lending a helping hand is something Newkirk said she’s done for much of her adult life, including back home in Indiana where she was quick to step up for the elderly and run errands or help with daily tasks, whatever was needed.
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Now, Newkirk has the chance to do that daily through St. Michael’s Community Kitchen.
“It’s so rewarding to be able to do this every day,” Newkirk said. “It’s the people that keep me coming back. Seeing the smiles on their faces and seeing them so grateful really, truly makes my day. I love people, and I love to cook, so it’s the best of both worlds.”
When Newkirk first started with the kitchen, she was overwhelmed. All these years later, Newkirk runs the show in the kitchen day to day, and is slowly incorporating her 13-year-old granddaughter, Chloe Newkirk, into the fold, taking her on deliveries and getting her immersed in the kitchen.
Chloe has been coming to the kitchen to help prepare food or go on deliveries since she was 7 years old. Spending time with her grandmother and seeing the impact she has on those in need in the community continues to bring Chloe back.
“Spending time with her is a big reason why I’m here,” Chloe said. “But being able to give back and seeing a smile on people’s faces really warms my heart. It makes me really happy to come down here, help people, and spend time with my her.
“I’m really proud of her for all that she’s done and continues to do for this community,” Chloe added. “She’s so dedicated to this kitchen and helping people in need in this community. It makes her really happy to be down here.”
Through the years, Newkirk has seen the number of meals prepared weekly grow, but the one thing that continues to stand out to her and make her thankful to live in this community is the amount of support the kitchen has seen over the years.
“This community is just so fantastic,” Newkirk said. “Walmart and City Market are always there to help us, and as of late I’ve seen more people that I’ve never seen before come in and donate food or supplies to this kitchen to make sure we can help those in need.
“We’re very lucky to live in such a wonderful community. It feels like this is where God wants me,” Newkirk added. “I think this is where I’m supposed to be; I truly do. I keep coming back and I just absolutely love it.”
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