Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Restoring Peoples' Hope ; Outreach Program Provides More Than Just a Warm Meal

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Restoring Peoples' Hope ; Outreach Program Provides More Than Just a Warm Meal

Article excerpt

For Pastor Ray Brown, a free meal shouldn't be dangled in front of person to lure them to a sermon or addiction recovery classes, even if it is offered by a faith-based outreach ministry. "We feel we can do two things with a spoon: We can feed people with it or we can make them gag," said Brown, who leads the Gathering Church at 121 Walnut St. in Downtown Evansville. "We love people where they're at, regardless of what they've done, who they are or the life choices they have going on at that time."

Forming a deep-rooted relationship with people through acceptance is how Restore Outreach Ministry can eventually help people best, Brown believes.

Addiction recovery classes, a warm meal and child care are the crux of what Restore offers on a continual basis.

Of course, they do much more, Brown said, but without the relationship, their outreach and the church that formed from it, would be without its footing.

"We can't do everything, but we feel like that what we do provide is that safe, non-judgemental and caring atmosphere that will help bring them hope until some of the other things click in for them," Brown said.

Starting in 2008, Brown said Outreach was formed by eight women learning how to cook an easy, nutritious meal from a former Army cook. That group of mothers then had an addiction recovery class with April Harris, who's now an administrator at the church. Brown hired a few teens to help watch their children during the course.

Now, that lesson and the recovery class that followed has expanded to a weekly hot meal offered by Restore.

At 5:30 p.m. every Monday at Cedar Hall Elementary, Restore provides about 200 cooked meals to anyone who comes through the door. About two-thirds of the food comes from Tri-State Food Bank, he said.

Rebecca Patrick, treasurer for the outreach and a six-year volunteer, said Restore doesn't care if a person has "hurts, habits or hangups. …

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