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Mission Marble Falls celebrates one-year anniversary

Penny Goodman (left) and Joan Holicky serve up hot lunches at Mission Marble Falls. The program celebrated its first anniversary in early March. Mission Marble Falls serves lunch 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday at St. Frederick Baptist Church, 301 Ave. N in Marble Falls. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

MARBLE FALLS — When Mission Marble Falls opened its doors a little more than a year ago to provide hot, healthy lunches for struggling residents, the Rev. George Perry wasn’t sure what or who to expect.

“We knew there was a need,” he said. “But I think that first week or so, we had probably 10 people show up each day.”

A year later and a few weeks after celebrating its first anniversary, Mission Marble Falls averages serving between 50 and 70 lunches the three days a week it’s open at St. Frederick Baptist Church, 301 Ave. N.

“I started going around to all the places I knew there were homeless folks or people needing a little help and just told them about it,” Perry said. “There was definitely a need — still is.”

Local businessmen Chris Bean and Grant Dean started Mission Marble Falls as a lunch program after seeing quite a few local residents struggling to find a hot meal. So after gathering some support, a few volunteers and locating a place to host it, they kicked off Mission Marble Falls in 2014. They opened at St. Frederick after Bean shared his idea with Perry. The church provides kitchen space and a small dining hall.

And, Perry pointed out, it fit right into one of the church’s roles: to serve people.

“I feel like it’s our responsibility to help each other,” Perry said. “I’m really happy about this. It opened my eyes — our eyes — to the need within the community.”

Mission Marble Falls serves meals 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The organization doesn’t deliver, but volunteers pack a few lunches to send home with people for those who can’t make it in.

While the program centers on food, Perry doesn’t want people to think of it as a soup kitchen.

“Oh, it’s more than just a soup kitchen,” he explained. “There’s a lot of people who come in here who are depressed. Once you get into a depressed state and stay in it, it’s extremely hard to get out of. So we offer them a place to come, talk and just be loved.”

When people sit down to eat, Perry or other volunteers visit with them. If someone needs to talk, Perry obliges. And it doesn’t matter if they come in at the beginning of serving time or in the last few seconds, Perry makes time for them.

And it’s the volunteers cooking in the kitchen, serving the plates or visiting with guests who make it all work.

Joan Holicky, who started volunteering several times a week last April, worked with food and homeless ministries in Austin in the past and believed she could make a difference at Mission Marble Falls.

She even began gathering personal hygiene items for those who needed them. Perry said that has just added to the reach of Mission Marble Falls.

While Holicky volunteers because she believes in the importance of helping others, she’s also created a bond with the other volunteers and guests.

“They’ve become — we’ve become — family,” she said.

And Perry pointed out that’s how Jesus wanted us to treat everybody: with love and like family.

Mission Marble Falls needs volunteers and donations. Go to missionmarblefalls.com, stop by the church during the meals or call (830) 693-4499 to learn how to help.

daniel@thepicayune.com