Bobbie Holt and Salvador Delgadillo lunched on spaghetti and meatballs, bread and butter and cool water. They enjoyed a cookie for dessert, and happily accepted the doggie bag to take home that their server offered them after their meal.
The two friends were not dining at an elegant Italian restaurant. Their meal was provided by volunteers from Genesis Project in Apache Junction and LifePoint Church in San Tan Valley. The lunch and take-home bag were their supply of food for the day, Ms. Holt said during the lunch service March 28 at the Genesis Project soup kitchen.
“It keeps me alive,” Mr. Delgadillo said.
Ms. Holt said she is a former nurse who lost her job when she was unable to work due to her fibromyalgia. Symptoms of the disease include chronic muscle pain and muscle spasms as well as moderate or severe fatigue and decreased energy, according to www.webmd.com. She said her weight was down to 73 pounds about three years ago when a friend brought her to Genesis Project and told her “you have to eat.” Today she is a much healthier version of her former self.
Since 2006, Genesis Project has been providing on weekdays hot meals, clothing and showers to the homeless and hungry in Apache Junction, Gold Canyon and east Mesa. It is a coalition of churches in the Apache Junction area banded together for the common purpose of aiding the less fortunate, according to its website.
It is a faith-based 501(c)3 organization seeking to feed, clothe and rehabilitate the homeless of northern Pinal County, according to the site.
A change in venue last month and offer of help from LifePoint Church are helping the nonprofit organization expand its meal service by an extra Saturday each month.
On March 14, Genesis Project held an open house at its new home at 564 N. Idaho Road No. 5 in Apache Junction to dedicate its kitchen to the organization’s founder, Kathy Mceuen, and dining hall to Johnathan Croom, the late son of Genesis Project Chairman David Croom.
Its services include a clothing bank from which people may select items between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday-Friday, a weekly bicycle repair clinic from noon to 2 p.m. on Wednesday and weekly visits from a nurse from noon to 2 p.m. on Monday, according to its open house newsletter.
The focus of its work remains feeding the hungry, according to the newsletter. The soup kitchen serves hot meals from noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday; Clients also may take home a meal bag consisting of a sandwich, cookies, bottled water and fruit, when the organization has it, to eat later that day, according to the Genesis Project website.
Since 2006, Genesis Project has served 313,488 meals, according to figures provided at the open house. In 2014, the all-volunteer staff served 36,977 meals. Volunteers served 6,682 meals during the first two months of 2015 — an average per day of 67 in January and 75 in February, according to the figures.
Volunteers donated more than 1,100 hours per month in 2015 — 1,277 hours in January and 1,145 hours in February, according to the literature.
Still, the volunteer numbers were not sufficient to allow the organization to serve meals on weekends, Genesis Project President Mid Carlozzi said during an interview at the open house. But that is starting to change thanks to volunteers from LifePoint Church in San Tan Valley, Mr. Carlozzi said.
In February, a group of 27 youths and eight adults from the church at 28479 N. Main St. served lunch on the last Saturday of the month at Genesis Project, Mr. Carlozzi said. The volunteers found the experience so worthwhile the church decided to make the meal one of its regular ministries, which volunteers perform on the last Saturday of each month, Shawn McDermott of No Worries Ministries, who helped coordinate the meal and LifePoint volunteers, said in a phone interview.
“We wanted our youths to interact with the homeless and those in need. We told the group to communicate with the clients. It’s what the clients need and may not get from anywhere else,” Mr. McDermott said. “We can do so much to help. People want a way to give.”
Church members purchased not only the food but also the service ware, such as paper plates and forks, and condiments and beverages, such as water and Gatorade, Mr. McDermott said.
In addition, Kneaders Bakery and Cafe, 21157 E. Rittenhouse Road in Queen Creek, donated the bread for the meal, he said.
“We brought everything so that we don’t diminish the supplies at Genesis Project, and we leave what is left over for them to use,” Mr. McDermott said.
To make the clients feel special, the church volunteers provide table service rather than serving the food in a line, he said.
The meal received so much support from the church members that the church decided to open it to adult volunteers, Mr. McDermott said. Nine adults volunteered their time and donated the food served at the March 28 lunch, Mr. McDermott said.
The church’s adults will serve again in April at Genesis Project; the youth group will return May 30, Mr. McDermott said.
Some Genesis Project clients donate their time to the organization as a way of giving back.
Thomas Maslowski became homeless after losing his job in Apache Junction, he said during an interview March 28. He said Genesis Project and becoming a born-again Christian helped get him back on his feet. He now has a home but comes to Genesis Project every day, where he organizes the clothing and bicycles the organization gives to clients, assembles shelves, paints and performs other chores as needed, he said.
In addition to volunteers, Genesis Project needs the following items to help service the area’s needy: cash donations to assist clients with monthly expenses such as rent and utilities, and to help build two showers inside its building; food such as peanut putter and jelly; clothing such as shoes, jeans and T-shirts for men and women; and protective outdoor wear such as sun hats, sunglasses, sunscreen.
To learn more about Genesis Project or to volunteer, call 480-225-7757 or visit www.genesisprojectaz.com.
Reach staff writer Wendy Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org