‘Look for the helpers’: St. Michael’s Community Kitchen staffs steps up to the plate for community
Fred Rogers has that famous quote that consistently circles around during troubling times: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news,” Rogers said to his television neighbors, “my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
Right here in Craig and Moffat County, residents don’t have to look very far to find the helpers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s easy to spot the helpers at the forefront such as law enforcement, firefighters, doctors, nurses, and essential workers locally such as plant and line workers, and even those at the grocery stores.
What’s harder to spot – and often gets overlooked – are those helpers hidden in the shadows, specifically those working diligently to provide food for those in need through the St. Michael’s Community Kitchen.
Prior to the pandemic, the community kitchen served rough 300-350 meals a week to those in need. Seeing an opportunity to increase their output and help more community members put food on the table, the community kitchen staff has increased delivery and meal-handout days to three times a week, pushing north of 600 meals prepped and packaged for the elderly, the shut-ins, military veterans, homeless, and all who need the food.
Those 600+ meals aren’t just for one person for each meal either, Community Kitchen Director Robin Schiffbauer said.
“We just want to make sure that nobody goes hungry during a time like this,” Schiffbauer said. “We’ll give a couple of meals on delivery days to the elderly to make sure they have a meal for not only that day, but the next day as well. We’re all in this together, and it’s just great to see this team come together to help serve the community.”
The community kitchen is open to anyone in need of food, but its primary target during the stay at home orders from the governor has been the elderly stuck at home. Making and delivering those meals to the elderly and seeing the smiles on their faces is what drives the community kitchen team, especially Beth Newkirk, who is in her 8th year as a volunteer at St. Michael’s.
“Seeing the smile on their faces…that makes their day that you took the time to prepare and bring them a meal,” Newkirk said. “Through my time here I’ve made friends with the elderly; I love it. I would come here every day if I could. We just have a great team here, so that’s what drives us to continue pushing forward like we are.”
With job cuts happening all over the county – and the country as a whole, financial situations have become harder for people from all walks of life. Fortunately for those that might run into struggles locally, St. Michael’s Community Kitchen is there for them with a hot meal and a smile, lending a helping hand.
“It’s hard to explain the feeling seeing the smiles on the faces of those that come in here for food,” Newkirk said. “These people are so grateful when they come in here; it makes you grateful with what you have…it’s just a wonderful feeling; it’s just a very rewarding part of my life. It makes you feel like you’re doing something worthwhile and bigger than yourself.”
For Schiffbauer, her dedication to the community kitchen over the years has been part of a higher calling.
“I just feel like this is where God wants me to be,” Schiffbauer said. While she is retired, Schiffbauer spends a handful of her days out of the week at the kitchen, helping prepare meals for those in need.
Schiffbauer was quick to point out that without the help of not only the volunteer staff at the kitchen, but also local businesses, restaurants and ranchers donating food left and right, the community kitchen would be a shell of itself.
“We’re just so grateful for all those in the community that have come forward to help us with food donations and supplies,” Schiffbauer said. “We’re thankful to be able to provide this for the community, but it’s a total team effort and we’re proud to be part of it.”
St. Michael’s Community Kitchen serves hot meals Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays for those in need, and delivers meals to the elderly and those stuck at home Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays as well.
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Moffat County continues to see a downward trend in COVID-19 cases as the community has seen 31 new cases dating back to Friday, Jan. 8, according to Public Health.