Partnership and commitment. Kindness and teamwork. Generosity and faithfulness. All these traits describe the energy Joe Williamson and the Carroll County Soup Kitchen volunteers emit. From the dishwashers, to the meal preparers, to the servers, to the food sack drivers, to the “Bag Ladies”, to the operations support staff, to the Board, and to the executives, everyone at the Soup Kitchen has an important role to fill in order to serve their community and combat food insecurity in Carroll County. Pride knows no one. Even Williamson, the current Treasurer of the Kitchen, has given his time to several volunteer duties at the Soup Kitchen.
“You kind of have to be a jack of all trades!” he jokes. “I think I started off washing dishes. Not sure why some new people are asked to fill that role, but it’s just an important role just as any other duty, and it’s a good way to get indoctrinated into volunteering at the Soup Kitchen!”
Considering Williamson had just completed a forty-one year stint at Southwire in 2015, wiping plates and scrubbing pots seems almost an incredulous job to assign. However, he knows that when it comes to helping others, it’s imperative to remember that all duties at the Kitchen contributes to servicing the needs of the Kitchen’s guests. At Southwire, Williamson was responsible for his Division’s budgets. So, for Williamson to lend his expertise to the CCSK’s financial responsibilities, he seamlessly transitioned. He routinely provides the Board with monthly and annual financial reviews on how resources and expenses are being utilized.
It’s estimated that between two hundred to two hundred and fifty guests visit the Kitchen during their opening days – Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Those estimates exclude the estimated 250 food sack deliveries to shut-ins, twice per month.
So how does CCSK feed all these mouths? Well, it certainly takes massive amounts of donations, effort and planning. For starters, Williamson shares, donations, whether they come in the form of money or food, must be carefully allocated to provide various daily hot meals and the delivery of sack food items in a timely manner. It also helps that the CCSK has partnered with several local businesses that provide “in-kind” goods and services. One of those businesses is Bimbo Bakeries USA, which provides the Soup Kitchen with bread and desserts that is returned from grocery stores. In 2023 alone over three-hundred twenty-five thousand pounds of bread and desserts were diverted from potential disposal to feeding local residents. Williamson shares that most of this product is shared with roughly 20 other food bank ministries in Carroll, Heard, Haralson counties, plus Ranburne,and Heflin, Alabama. The whole community comes together in a loving way to help others.
All this service requires a lot of volunteers. We asked Williamson if he could name them all so we could give them a shoutout, but he laughed.
“You want me to give you the names of 80-95 regular volunteers? I could try, but since there are so many people, I am bound to leave most of them out.”
Despite having more involved responsibilities at the Kitchen, Williamson doesn’t view it as a job. In fact, he volunteers at The Mustard Seed Cafe (located within City Station on Maple Street), mainly bussing tables.
“My time there gives the café servers more time to actually provide food and drink for their customers,” he explains bashfully.
Avid radioheads may have heard of The JOY FM’s T-Shirts for Turkeys events that the station holds to collect Thanksgiving food donations every year. During this past holiday season, the JOY FM chose CCSK as the recipient of donated turkeys and financial donations.
“This past November, we received forty-one turkeys and over nine thousand paper turkeys!” Williamson exclaimed.
“Paper” turkeys are donations in the form of checks, cash, or gift cards that can be used to purchase food products for the annual Soup Kitchen Thanksgiving/Christmas food distribution project. Williamson divulged that although the minimum donation amount was ten dollars, many individuals gave above and beyond.
To be a part of this organization takes initiative and creativity. Williamson hammers home the fact that you have to stay on your toes and keep your eyes open.
“There’s so many people in Carroll County that care,” he credits. “In fact, most of our donations come from individuals, not businesses, believe it or not. It’s a loving community that we live in, and people want to help others. The Soup Kitchen is just an avenue that converts local donations into feeding our local community.”
Although Williamson lends the Kitchen’s successes in blessing to others, his enthusiasm and commitment to serve others is contagious.
If you are interested in volunteering your time to the Carroll County Soup Kitchen, you can reach to them by email at [email protected]. Financial donations can be accepted on their website, www.carrollcountysoupkitchen.org, or you can mail checks to Carroll County Soup Kitchen, P.O. Box 2457, Carrollton, GA 30112. You can visit their physical location on 345 Beulah Church Road to dine in or drive through every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 11:00 A. M. to 12:00 P. M.
If you or a loved one need assistance with food, Carroll County Soup Kitchen will do everything possible to help. If you are unable go to their location, ask via email if you can be on their Carrollton based delivery list.
The Carroll County Empty Bowls event (benefitting the Soup Kitchen) is also coming up on February 25, 2024. Look for more details on that at The City Menus event calendar!