Stewpot needs drivers desperately

Published 12:01 am Friday, June 26, 2015

Natchez is one of the finest cities I know to live in because so many people care, work together, pull together, and in multiple ways demonstrate their willingness to volunteer.

Well, here is a way for people who have limited time to help in a most basic way. The Natchez Stewpot has a tremendous need for additional drivers willing to give one or two hours a week or a month to help deliver meals to shut-ins.

Each day the Stewpot has volunteers taking meals on three separate routes to about 75 people. The other meals are served from the Stewpot on East Franklin.

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We need three drivers a day, or six if they go in pairs. We need extra drivers to fill in when needed. Delivery takes about an hour or an hour and a half.

Do you realize local churches and volunteers fund the Stewpot? Only two people receive money to prepare and serve the 350 meals a day. The Stewpot is a bright shining star radiating the glow of the generous hearts of this community.

We are proud of this symbol of caring for the vulnerable and least able of our community. So many people have given so much for so long. Thirty years of giving by so many. You each have made it possible. The community thanks you.

How did it get started? In April 1984, the public was invited to hear Larry Owens, associate pastor of Central Presbyterian Church and director of the Jackson Community Stewpot at Jefferson Street Methodist Church, to discuss starting a similar project in Natchez.

Interested people met and things began to happen. All were motived by the challenge of Scripture, “When I was hungry, you fed me.”  And, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

A board was developed from the natural talents of those interested. Churches and individuals were asked to donate money. Volunteers were recruited. A non-profit status was obtained, by-Laws were established, IRS tax-exempt status was obtained. On Christmas 1984, 25 people ate a beautiful meal of turkey and dressing at our former 207 State St. location. Everyone was rejoicing, happy and very full.

Today, 30 years later, we are serving about 300 to 350 meals every day. More than 150 are driven to sick, elderly or shut-ins. The rest are served at the Stewpot at 69 East Franklin. Yes, that is right 300 to 350 meals a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Our need for new drivers is urgent and absolutely critical. We need volunteers to help drive. We need people willing to give one and a half to two hours once a week or once a month, or once a quarter.

We do not pay money. No, we guarantee a much greater payment than money. In fact, you cannot get what you get paid in any store, bank, or shopping mall. You get paid a warm fuzzy feeling in your insides that you are a good decent person, because so many otherwise lonely people tell you so. Nothing compares to the looks of appreciation. You also grow in tolerance and learn not to judge when you do not receive that what you expect in appreciation. Serving others enables you to grow in understanding, compassion, and awareness of your own good fortune.

If you are willing to give us a hand, please call Amanda Jeansonne, president of the Stewpot board of directors, at 601-446-9549.

It would be even more fun if a small group adopted a certain route, or a certain day. It could be a bridge club, or a Sunday school class, or a lunch group. The more we have, the more fun we can have.

If you would like a presentation at your group or church please call Mary Jane Reed Gaudet at 601-807-1239.

Remember: “In as much as you have done it unto the least of these you have done it unto me.” Matthew 24:40


Mary Jane Gaudet is a Natchez resident and a Stewpot volunteer.