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Christ United Presbyterian Church
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Attendees can get information about how to apply programs such as state medical insurance, said Celeste Lasich, pastor of Christ United Presbyterian Church.
"People from Western Community Action come to talk about weatherization and energy assistance," she said. "People from legal aid visit once a month." Also, a volunteer who is a whiz with coupons might share her expertise with others. "We could set up a coupon club once a month or twice a month and exchange coupons," Lasich said. Esther's Kitchen is a much-needed part of the community, Lasich and Barb Springer, the kitchen and volunteer coordinator, say. Lasich said there are more families with young children coming so Esther's Kitchen now has a supply of baby and toddler food. People who come to Esther's Kitchen are typically "young adults in school or working who don't have enough money to pay the bills," Lasich said, or "older adults or pre-retirement age who don't have enough to pay the bills." Lasich said during the summer they got about 50 individuals a week with some bringing a take-home plate with them for spouses or neighbors who are shut-ins. "The people that are here are your neighbors," said Lasich. "We always have fruits and vegetables and good quality protein - stuff that people might go without," said Lasich. Lasich said when she enters the dining hall she often stops to just listen and look around. "I listen to the sounds - it's a happy, lively, bubbly sound - people feel welcome," she said. Lasich said Esther's Kitchen is "a place to gather with friends, eat a good meal and enjoy conversations. "Now we can store food - before we had to say 'Thank you, but no thank you,' because we had no place to put it," said Lasich.
MARSHALL - Esther's Kitchen has always been about serving the community, and to better do that, the weekly Thursday evening meal will be served an hour later, at 6 p.m., said Celeste Lasich, pastor of Christ United Presbyterian Church.
"When we started six years ago, five o'clock was a perfect time for the cooks and guests," Lasich said. "As time has passed, the volunteers are almost all working. Trying to be here before five o'clock is much more complicated." Lasich said it was a "Eureka! moment when one of the volunteers asked "what would happen if we did it later? said Lasich. Changing the time was brought up at a meeting of the volunteers from Christ United, First Lutheran and the morning Rotary Club who realized serving the meal from 6-7 p.m. "would be easier on the volunteers and the people coming to eat," Lasich said. Those used to coming at 5 p.m., don't have to change your plans, Lasich said. Those arriving early will find cards, board games and other activities to occupy their time and help them get to know their neighbors and community, which is why Esther's Kitchen exists, Lasich said. "It can be someplace to go, hang out and play board games and talk to people. The social aspect of this is very important," Lasich said. Lasich envisions Esther's Kitchen as a place where everyone can gather for a good, nutritious meal and get to know others. Musicians and others would be welcome to contribute their talents to the event. It is not a "soup kitchen" for just the homeless or poor, Lasich said. At the same time, the pastor knows there is a need to feed in the community. "We know there are many students for whom getting a good balanced meal is a real struggle," she acknowledged. "We want to encourage them to come and see what the rest of the community where they go to school looks like. "For people who are reluctant to come, think of it as this is just a way for you and your family to get through this particular time," Lasich said. "People resort to lower priced foods high in fat and carbohydrates, which has long-term consequences for health. If we can serve good, nutritious food and send some home with them, that's what we want to do. "We have the capacity to feed 100 people a night," Lasich said. "We're nowhere close to that. And we'd like for people to feel welcome to come and share a meal." She plans to walk out in faith and prepare more food in anticipation of more visitors. "We're planning to cook for more and keep quick back-ups to easily fix a second course if we need to," Lasich said. Lasich said Esther's Kitchen is blessed with many donations, including extras from funerals, business parties, birthday parties and public events. "We're high on people's minds to donate food that needs to be used within a week," Lasich said, adding they got "wonderful donations from people's gardens" in season. "We welcome donations and ask that people call the office at 532-9679 to make sure someone is there to take the donation," she said. If Esther's Kitchen can't use it, Lasich knows several organizations in town, such as Kitchen Table food shelf. "All of us who are working to eliminate hunger work together to utilize the food in the best possible way," Lasich said.
"I see the faces of some of the people whose survival depends on (state) programs" like medical assistance, said Celeste Lasich, pastor of Christ United Presbyterian Church in Marshall.
Celeste Lasich is pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Hays.
Celeste Lasich, pastor of Hays' First Presbyterian Church and an ECMA member, said the feast was a reflection of the ECMA's strength through unity.
"No one church could do all this, but all of us working together, we can create something that is just wonderful and really builds up the community for everyone," Lasich said.