Guests enjoy a pasta dinner, courtesy of Genoa Pizza in East Troy, during the Aug. 19 Second Helpings dinner at St. James United Methodist Church in East Troy. The free meal on the third Monday of every month is open to the public. (Tracy Ouellette photo)

St. James community meal brings people together

By Tracy Ouellette

SLN Staff

In a world with modern technology that keeps everyone connected through the internet, there sometimes exists a dichotomy of disconnection from everyday life. The paradox is not lost on the organizers of the Second Helpings monthly supper at St. James United Methodist Church in East Troy.

The church began hosting the supper in 2009 after parishioners George and Karen Davis brought the idea from a church in Iowa as a way to promote community togetherness.

“They did it every night there,” George Davis said, “and we wanted to start it here.”

While the traditional model for Second Helpings, which works to end hunger and eliminate food waste, has local restaurants donating their leftover food at the end of the night, in East Troy the local restaurants donate freshly prepared food for the meal.

“Second Helpings for us means you can actually have a second helping after everyone has been served,” George Davis said. “We run it a little differently here through the generosity of our restaurants and community.”

Over the past 10 years, food has been donated by multiple restaurants, including the Ale Station, Gus’s Drive-In, Genoa Pizza, LD’s BBQ and others.

“People have just been great when we’ve approached them for this,” George Davis said. “And not just the restaurants, community members too. Sometimes people will just donate money and say use it for the meal. Troy Center United Methodist Church usually sponsors one of the meals a year with a cash donation.

The meal is free, but recently the church has begun accepting a free-will donation from the attendees to benefit the East Troy Food Pantry.

“The reaction to the free-will offering has been tremendous,” church advisory board chairperson Joyce Reed said. “People asked why we didn’t do it sooner.”

Connecting with the community

The main purpose for the meal is to build community connections and show people God’s love in a tangible way, Reed said.

“We give people a place to socialize and get connected,” she said. “We want people to know this is open to everyone. So many people tell me that they think the dinner is for those in need and didn’t realize it was a community meal.

“We do have people in need in the community, no doubt about it, and we are here for them, but this is also about feeding the soul.”

More than 70 people came to dinner during the August meal and the church’s fellowship hall filled up quickly.

The August meal was also attended by the church’s new pastor, the Rev. Bill Busch, who started his tenure at St. James July 1 when the church entered into Waterford’s Community United Methodist Church’s regional ministry.

Busch spent much of the dinner making the rounds to different tables and meeting new people.

“I love doing this,” he said as he sat down to dinner after giving the blessing. “I love meeting new people and getting to know the community.”

Joann and Bud Krause are regular attenders at the St. James’ Second Helpings meal and celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary at the Aug. 19 dinner. (Tracy Ouellette photo)

Bud and Joann Krause were also in attendance at the August dinner and were celebrating their 58th wedding anniversary.

“We call it our ‘church group,’” Joann Krause said. “It’s a nice place to socialize and meet people. Our church is actually St. Peter’s but they only do this twice a year at St. Patrick’s Day and Thanksgiving.”

“We’ve been coming for a lot of years,” Bud Krause added. “We really enjoy the company.”

Ways to help

With the local restaurants providing the food, the next order of business for the monthly meal is to have enough volunteers to serve and clean up.

At the Aug. 19 supper, East Troy State Farm agent Tim Werwie and his family were on hand to assist with running the “front of the house” while women from the church’s women’s ministry staffed the kitchen.

“This is our first time hosting the event, we’ve helped out before, but this is the first time we’ve been the host,” Werwie said. “I was looking for a way to become more involved in the community and they approached me with this and I was all for it.

“One of my core values is serving, I really just love to serve others, and I was very excited to be part of this.”

Anyone interested in donating to the dinner or volunteering can contact the church at 262-642-7642. For more information about the church, visit easttroyumc.org.

 
 

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