28 years ago, twins Helen Ashe and Ellen Turner, from Abbeville, S.C., dreamed of creating a program in which Knoxville's needy could receive food and drink. Today, nearly thirty years later, their dream has been realized in the Love Kitchen, where patrons receive more than just a meal.
Driven by the principles instilled in them by their parents, Ashe and Turner believe the Love Kitchen to be the manifestation of their father's three "truths," being, there is only one Father and that is the Father in Heaven; there is only one race, the human race; and to never take the last piece of bread. Someone may come by in need of it.
The final truth displays the vision and goal of the Love Kitchen to its entirety.
In February of 1986, the Love Kitchen opened its doors to Knoxville's needy in the basement of a small church. By the end of its first day of operation, the Love Kitchen served 22 meals to members of the Knoxville community.
Word quickly spread.
Today, the twin sisters and groups of the kitchen's volunteers prepare and serve more than 2,000 meals each week.
According to statistics from the Knox Area Rescue Ministries, there are over 1,500 homeless and poverty-stricken persons in the Knoxville area in any given month. This number is especially staggering because it has increased nearly fifty percent over the last ten years. Out of the kitchen's 2,000 meals prepared each week, most of them are delivered by volunteers to those confined to their homes. These people are included in Ashe's list, called the five H's: the hungry, the homeless, the helpless, the hopeless and the homebound.
If someone were to ask any of those who serve or receive nourishment at the Love Kitchen, they will say that the backbone of the program's enduring success is the community's volunteering. Here on campus, one of the main groups associated with the Love Kitchen is the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. Jimmy Beard, senior in political science and a brother of Phi Gamma Delta, volunteers at the kitchen.
"Preparing meals with Helen and Ellen is a great experience," Beard said. "The homeless community is cooperative and more than grateful for the work Phi Gamma Delta does in working with the Love Kitchen. There are even a few brothers who are active on the Love Kitchen's Board of Directors."
Those who serve at the Love Kitchen show the importance of giving to others—financially, physically or spiritually. Ashe, Turner and the kitchen's volunteers give something for all three—whether serving or being served, everyone fills more than just their bellies.
"(Ashe and Turner) put their hearts and souls into running the Love Kitchen," said Taylor Boykin, sophomore in logistics and member of Phi Gamma Delta. "The love in the Love Kitchen extends to everyone who comes."
The Love Kitchen is located on 2418 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Knoxville. For more information regarding volunteering or donating, please visit their website at www.thelovekitchen.org