GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — One group in Grand Rapids is making sure those experiencing homelessness or other setbacks don't go hungry.
“I'm known as the Chili Man of Grand Rapids" says Richard Pitt. "We do this year-round, whether it is snow, rain. I'm here those two days every week"
The Gospel Living Outreach Ministry started serving homemade meals three years ago, and organizers tell us it has more than tripled in size, now serving nearly 180 people.
Marisa Tilltoson volunteers with the program, saying the groups are very different every time. "Sometimes they grow, sometimes it is a lot of women. Sometimes it is a lot of men," she said. "There are some children that come."
"This is a hot meal. Every meal I serve is homemade,” Pitt said. “It’s hot, and it is prepared every day in the morning."
The ministry helps people who need to make ends meet.
"There are several people I know here are hoping to go back to work," Pitt said
But with the sudden expanse of people needing help comes a growing need for volunteers.
"People can help by either coming here and sort of monitoring the people, keeping the line. They can help by giving us supplies,” Pitt says. "I go through 60 pounds of hamburger every week."
And the more help they can get from the community, the better. Pitt is asking for whatever people can give. "(It) d\Doesn’t have to be $100 dollars, two bucks, three bucks. I had a truck driver stop by and gave me a 20-dollar bill," Pitt said.
"In some ways it makes me feel sad, because I feel they should have better lives than this,” said folunteer Isabella Tilltoson. “In other ways it makes me feel a sense of community, just seeing how they interact and seeing how they love each other and they look after one another."
"You have to reach out, you have to touch the hearts of these people," Pitt said.
The group serves the Mel Trotter and Heartside Park areas every Wednesday and Saturday at 11:30 a.m. To get involved, just visit their website.