We LOVE Morgan’s style!  She brings out the best of the 80s with the bold print over hot pink and Hammer pants…we’ve never seen it done so well!  When we talked with Morgan, she really emphasized how much she loves one-shoulder shirts…so we really focused on featuring the one-shoulder-ness aspect in her senior portraits.  She rocked it!  Great job Morgan!

One last one…

This is the question that I asked myself for three weeks until our friends, Hugh and Jackie, showed up to give us a few pointers.  We volunteered to cook and serve a meal for 100 people every third Thursday of the month for Friends of the Homeless in Columbia, SC with absolutely no prior experience in doing so.  We just wrote an extensive post here about how we were called to serve this mission (its worth the read!)  As our friends Hugh and Jackie (seasoned veterans in the subject) started showing us how to make mountains of food and have all of the portions come out right and tasting good, I decided I needed to take pictures of the project so I would remember how to do this next month all by myself.  And then I thought that there might be others out there who want to learn too…so I’m sharing my pictures and my “how-to” with you today!

Step One.  Grocery.  How to decide how much of what to buy.

We decided to make spaghetti this month because a friend of ours found Prego spaghetti sauce on sale for 63 cents a jar (that’s a steal!).  When we make spaghetti at home, we use one package of noodles, one jar of sauce and one pound of ground beef and are able to serve 4-6 people.  So this was our list as follows: Spaghetti Sauce…100 people/5 servings per jar equals 20 jars.  20 jars of sauce means that we need 20 pounds of ground beef.  We decided that macaroni or penne pasta would be easier to serve quickly than spaghetti noodles.  One giant box of macaroni at Sams contains 6 individual packages of macaroni that each serve 6-8 people each.  6 servings per package multiplied by 6 packages per box equals 36 servings of pasta per giant box.  100 divided by 36 means that we needed a little more than 2 boxes…so we got three (just to be safe) because sometimes the people that decide serving sizes think that all people eat tiny tiny portions :).

Also on the list were spoons, napkins, bowls, metal tins to cook and transport the spaghetti, water, bread and parmesan cheese.

Team strategy meeting over the ingredients.  Holy cow! That’s a lot of spaghetti sauce!

Step Two…Cooking strategy. 

Ok…we have ground beef, sauce and noodles that need to get cooked somehow and spread evenly into trays.  After divising and discarding several plans, we decided on this:

1. Brown the beef the night before.  Jackie and Kristen, each in charge of their own skillet, browned the beef in two-three pound increments.  We then drained the cooked ground beef and placed it into three aluminum pans purchased at the grocery.  The pans of ground beef were then stored in the refrigerator overnight. 

2.  Its morning of serving day.  We need to decide how many aluminum trays we will need to hold the 100 servings of spaghetti.  This decision is very important because we don’t have enough giant cooking pots to cook and mix all of the spaghetti together at once.  We will make the spaghetti in batches, and each batch will fill one aluminum tray.  We decide that one tray will hold eight servings.  SO, it is decided that we will fill 12 aluminum trays with 12 batches of spaghetti.

3.  Decide how much spaghetti sauce, cooked ground beef and macaroni noodles will go in each tray.  Cook the needed portions and mix together in each tray.

We started with the cooked (but now cold) ground beef.  We have three full trays of ground beef that need to be divided between twelve pans.

Twelve empty pans divided by three trays of ground beef equals four.  Each tray of ground beef will be divided into four equal portions and those individual portions will be placed into its own tray.

4.  Next…Start boiling water for the macaroni noodles.  I have three pots.  Two of them will be used to actually cook noodles in.  We will place a colander over the third pot and use it to catch and recycle the spaghetti water so we don’t have to heat too many pots of water.  This will cut down on our time waiting for the water to boil in between cooking noodles.

This is how the macaroni was packaged inside the boxes.  We plan on cooking twelve of these macaroni packages.  Each boiling pot of water will hold two packages of noodles….which we will split between two pans of spaghetti.  Basically, we will use one package of pasta per pan of meat and sauce.

Cook the macaroni for 10 minutes.

5.  Back to the pans of meat and the sauce…  We have cold ground beef divided between 12 aluminum pans.  We decided the easiest thing to do would be to heat the sauce, mix it with the ground beef and then warm the pans in the oven to warm the ground beef.

6.  Heat the spaghetti sauce.  Remove the lid from the sauce and place the glass jar directly in the microwave.  Messy…but it works.  Heat each jar of sauce in the microwave for 1:30.

Told ya it was messy!

7.  Mix the heated spaghetti sauce with the meat.  But how much?  We have 20 jars of sauce to split between 12 pans…so we decided to mix approximately 1 and a half jars of spaghetti sauce per pan of meat.

Place the lid on the aluminum pans and heat in an oven at 275 degrees for 20 or 30 minutes.

8.  After each pan is heated (the oven only holds 6 pans so there will be heating shifts)  mix in the appropriate amount of macaroni noodles directly in the aluminum pan.

And that’s it for the cooking part.  Hearty meal for a cold day.  Everyone said it was really good!

Hugh and Jackie taking a minute to re-think cooking strategy.  Thank goodness they were here!  We couldn’t have done it without them.  They’re a really good team 😉

Jack wanted to help too!  Sorry Jack…cooking isn’t for doggies.

NOW…for the transport.  We needed to keep the pans of warm spaghetti…well…warm on their ride to Finlay Park.  Towels should do the trick!  Wrap two pans of spaghetti into a towel and voila!  Load them in the car.

We arrived at Finlay Park at little too early (for once in my life!).  A few people were starting to gather in the park, and we were getting really excited.  Shortly, Irvin arrived and more people came and started gathering around his truck…unloading the tables, getting the tablecloths ready, unloading our truck, carrying the food to the tables and setting everything up.  Irvin said a few words at 12:00.  Mary, a regular at the meals, let me know that she is the one who always passes the plates out and I wasn’t about to take her job from her!  We started serving at 12:00.  80 people came through the line, some came back for seconds, and at 12:30 people started breaking down the serving tables and loading them back into Irvin’s truck.  Why so short?  This is really the remarkable part…Irvin does this on his lunch hour.  Every. Day.  Irvin works for the Department of Human Services just down the street from Finlay Park and takes his lunch hour every day and devotes it to his ministry.  Rain or shine. Healthy or Sick.  On our serving day, Irvin was sick.  But he came anyway.

I snapped a couple of shots from my place in line just so you could see what takes place at Finlay Park everyday at noon.

This is what we can accomplish through community.  This is what one person making a difference looks like.  Thank you Irvin!

The Third Thursday team…

Hugh, Jackie and Kristen

Tom and daughter, Jillian.

  • Debbie WilliamsNovember 3, 2011 - 9:57 pm

    Kristen, this is simply amazing. I am so inspired by this ministry and so glad you are taking part in it. God bless you!

  • Hugh DorminyDecember 8, 2011 - 3:34 pm

    It warmed my heart and put a smile on my face as I read your post and looked at the pictures. Jackie & I really enjoyed spending time with you and it was an honor to join the 3rd Thursday team for their first effort feeding needy folks in Columbia, SC. I know you did a good job in November and will do equally well in coming months. Stay well; be happy!

One person can make a difference. 

Then that one person…affects another person…and then that one person makes a difference.  And it spreads.

This is a story in a story…and then it will be followed up by a “how-to” in the next post in case this is what you are called to do too.

Irvin is the first person in this story.  Irvin is a retired veteran who noticed that there were a lot of homeless veterans.  He felt that “tug” at his heartstrings…the whisper that says “You should do something about that…a lot of them are hungry.”  And so he did.  He started simply…by taking 10 sack lunches out to the park and handing them to veterans.  He did that day after day, until one time.  And one time, he handed out all of his sack lunches except one.  When he got to his last sack lunch, there were two people left (a veteran and a non-veteran).  At that moment, he realized that hungry people are hungry people even if they aren’t a veteran.  He gave his last sack lunch to the non-veteran, who then split his sack lunch with the veteran.  That is how Irvin’s idea began to grow.  He began to serve a meal one day a week in the park to anyone that was there.  Then, Irvin started serving hot meals in the park two days a week…then three days a week…and now Irvin (along with some friends) serve hot meals in the park five days a week to anywhere from 25-100 people who need to eat. Every day. Five days a week.  Irvin is there everyday, joking and talking with every person there.  They call him Reverend because Irvin also feeds their soul.  He provides encouragement and cheerleading, convincing them that homelessness doesn’t have to be a permanent condition, and providing them with resources to make the next step out of homelessness.

We (Tom and Kristen) are the second people in this story.  For a couple of years, Kristen has been talking about wanting to make a pot of soup and serve it on a corner somewhere to hungry people.  And just never has, for one reason or another.  Its easy to make excuses, like I don’t know which location would be best to serve soup to reach the people I am trying to reach, what if I make a pot of soup and no one shows up, how do I make soup for more than five people, I’m really busy right now its just not a good time, and so on.  We are the champion of those kinds of excuses!  Truth be told, Kristen just always wanted to do it simply….without going through committees and spending months in planning with lots of people.  We just wanted to set up a table somewhere and serve soup.  So imagine our surprise when “it” happened.  We were driving, on a Tuesday, through an area of town that we never drive through at 12:30…a time that we are never out and about…when we saw “it”.  “It” was a table set up with a pot of soup on it being served by four people to a crowd of what appeared to be homeless people…in a park!  It took a couple of seconds for what we had just seen to sink in.  “Hey!  They’re serving soup!  In the park!  That’s what we have been talking about wanting to do!” We quickly turned around, Tom got out of the car, and Irvin (although we didn’t know he was in charge) was the first person that we spoke to.  After an introduction, we found out that Irvin had been looking for people to cook and serve meals on two different dates…the third and fourth Thursday of the month.  “We will take the third Thursday!” I exclaimed…not even thinking that I have no idea how to cook a meal for 100 people.  Details to be figured out later…  Irvin later admitted that he had a conversation with God earlier in the week and said “Hey God…you do remember that I still have two days open a month that I need to fill with volunteers right?”.  He says he has never had to solicit for volunteers to cook and serve.  He prays and the people always show up.

I don’t say any of this to pat ourselves on the back.  Its not about that.  Its about doing what we are called to do and fulfilling our life’s purpose.  I don’t believe that I have just one life purpose, but I do firmly believe that feeding people is one of them.  Being led to a life calling and being in a position to fulfill that calling is such an honor.  Honoring the calling makes everything in life just a bit sweeter.

That is how one person (Irvin) made a difference.  And then that one person (Irvin) affected a second person (us) and we are able to make a difference every month on the third Thursday. 

What is your calling?  What have you always wanted to do?

  • […] in Columbia, SC with absolutely no prior experience in doing so.  We just wrote an extensive post here about how we were called to serve this mission (its worth the read!)  As our friends Hugh and […]

  • Hugh DorminyDecember 8, 2011 - 3:42 pm

    Irvin is a really neat person who is living his faith. He is a good example for all of us. You guys are following his example and that is wonderful. Keep up the good deeds.

The 5th Annual Fur Ball benefitting Pawmetto Lifeline was Saturday night…and we did have a ball!  Pawmetto Lifeline is a no kill shelter in South Carolina…we recently photographed some of their sweet doggies and wrote about them here.  The Fur Ball is a black-tie, upscale event with incredible attention to detail…complete with champagne and caviar, scotch bar, apple martinis, delicious food (I couldn’t decide on a favorite between Shrimp and Grits and pecan crusted chicken…but the crab cakes were also delicious!)  live band, silent auction and live auction.  More than that though, we met SO many incredibly nice people.  We set up a Photo Booth for the event and took posed, formal portraits and fun photo booth pics complete with props.  We had a ball and hope everyone else did too!  Here are a few sneak peaks from the Photo Booth.  We would love to share all of them (there are a lot of fun ones in there!), but I wasn’t sure who would want to be shared online and who wouldn’t.  I selected a few people that work at Pawmetto Lifeline plus one or two who I knew wouldn’t mind being shared.  If I missed you and you would like to have your picture posted as well, please comment below and I will add you!  Thanks for all of the fun Fur Ball…we can’t wait to see you next year!

Belles of the Ball… Jan Jernigan, Vice President Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and Denise Wilkinson, CEO Pawmetto Lifeline

Natasha Achberger and husband, development associate and event planner extraordinaire

Fun couples…



Tom needed to have his picture taken too!

This sweet foster couple brought their foster puppy to the ball…everyone fell in love with her!

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