Volunteer cooks say job is worthwhile and fun

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  • Cheryl Schweizer/Columbia Basin Herald The sandwich crew at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church is really efficient, filling the turkey sandwich pan in about an hour. Cleo Stevens (left) fills up the pan; Faith Doumit (right) and the rest of the crew keep on making sandwiches.

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    Cheryl Schweizer/Columbia Basin Herald Volunteer soup chefs Pete Doumit (left) and Clyde Carpenter tweak the chicken soup served at the weekly lunch served at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church.

  • Cheryl Schweizer/Columbia Basin Herald The sandwich crew at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church is really efficient, filling the turkey sandwich pan in about an hour. Cleo Stevens (left) fills up the pan; Faith Doumit (right) and the rest of the crew keep on making sandwiches.

  • 1

    Cheryl Schweizer/Columbia Basin Herald Volunteer soup chefs Pete Doumit (left) and Clyde Carpenter tweak the chicken soup served at the weekly lunch served at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church.

MOSES LAKE — After 10 years, the soup-and-sandwich crew at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church has it down to a science.

Every Thursday from early September to late May, the crew has homemade soup and at least 100 sandwiches ready to serve by 11 a.m. (There’s homemade dessert, too.) The church sponsors lunch and offers other services for disadvantaged people each Thursday from fall through spring.

The chefs make soup and sandwiches for about 100 people, said Cleo Stevens, one of the program founders. They’ve been feeding about 100 people a week since last spring. “The word kind of spread.”

The church started the project 10 years ago, and “most of us have been here that long, too,” said Donna Sporleder, who was making sandwiches Thursday morning.

The weekly lunch was the brainchild of Stevens and fellow parishioner Kim Helvy. “I just thought of it one day,” Stevens said. At the time there were no similar programs in Moses Lake, and the parish hall was not very busy.

A retired caterer, Ruth Lynch, was among the early volunteers. “She said, ‘I’m going to make your soup,’” and provided the recipes, which the soup crew still uses, more or less.

“We doctor them up a little bit,” Stevens said. The soup chefs work alternate Thursdays; Clyde Carpenter and Pete Doumit are in charge of the soup kettles one week, Bev Duzon the next week. “She makes it when it’s good,” Carpenter said. Attendance goes up when Bev’s making the soup, he said.

Last Thursday, Carpenter and Doumit claimed working as the soup chef is a pretty easy gig. “We lean against the cabinet drinking coffee and watching the soup boil,” Doumit said.

There’s a little more to it than that – there’s a lot of tasting and tweaking, a little more water, a little more garlic. “They taste, and add, and taste, and add,” Stevens said.

The sandwich chefs can knock out about 100 sandwiches in right around an hour. There were six chefs on Thursday, working assembly-line fashion. The pan of turkey sandwiches filled up fast.

A few pieces of bread were left when the sandwiches were made, and they were promptly cubed, destined for bread pudding. “We don’t waste anything,” Duzon said.

All the food is donated, Stevens said. The volunteers donate their time.

The cooks get as much out of the cooking as the people who eat the meals, Pete Doumit said. “We’re doing something that’s worthwhile,” said Faith Doumit.

Their lives have been blessed, Pete said, and as he gets older he understands how much they’ve been blessed. Cooking for the disadvantaged is a way to pass some of those blessings on to others. “We’re called to do it.”

“You know you’re doing some good,” said Janet Sanchez, providing food for people who might not otherwise get a hot meal. She’s been volunteering since moving to Moses Lake from Grand Coulee about a year ago, and she’s made some good friends while making sandwiches. “Wonderful people to work with,” she said, and she's met some pretty good people having lunch, she said.

Both volunteers and donations are accepted, Stevens said. People who want to donate or volunteer can contact the church office.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at education@columbiabasinherald.com.

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