HONOLULU (KHON2) –It’s a process that repeats itself almost all day, everyday at the River of Life Mission.
Operating out of their Chinatown kitchen, these caring hands prepare food to be delivered to about 1,000 people every day. Which is actually down for the pandemic and that number was closer to 1,300.
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Paul Gates, River of Life Mission executive director said, “And it’s a hot handmade meal made with a lot of love. We always say we want to serve the best meal we can and all the meals and food that we serve as donated items. So we never know what we’re gonna cook from one day to the next.”
River of Life Mission has been supporting people in need for 35 years.
“I’ve always had a heart for the homeless and at the River of Life Mission, we call them our guests. And we love serving their guests and helping people in need and the meat is getting greater,” said Gates.
Gates said the first priority in serving their “guests” as he calls them, is getting to know them as people.
All starting with three simple questions. What’s your name? How can we help you? And tell us about your family.
Gates explained, “What are the big things that we realize and one of the most important things is connecting people back with their families. A lot of people wind up on the streets because of a small rift with their family so we’re actually doing a lot of work behind the scenes to help reconnect people with their families. That’s something really new that we’re doing here at River of Life.”
Although not related by blood, the family behind the scenes at River of Life is steadfast in their goal of helping anyone in need.
Shervelle Gardner, River of Life Mission general manager said, “The feeling here I came in here as a volunteer. I worked at another real estate company for 15 years and I loved my job.”
But after volunteering for River of Life, Gardner said everything changed.
“And I’ve been here for about 30 years now.”
KHON2 asked, “And how does it feel to do what you do on a daily basis?”
Gardner responded, “I just love it. It’s just part of my life.”
Although the hot meals served as the mission’s main course, they’re also focusing more on serving up the tools needed to help rebuild the very foundation for people to build on.
Gates added, “The structure falls apart and people end up on the street and one of the things we say that’s really tragic about living on the streets is the isolation. You’re isolated from the community, you’re isolated from conversation, this is what we’re having right now this is what we were built for.”
“Especially when it goes on for longer and longer it’s really hard to come back,” Gates continued.
Gates said the organization doesn’t discriminate against anybody and with every meal he serves, he feels that much more fulfilled.
“It’s amazing Howard, I tell people every night to put my head on my pillow and I know that I did something that helps somebody else every day,” said Gates.
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Gates concluded, “We have a lot of people that support River of Life Mission. If you’re listening go to riveroflifemission.org you can volunteer and you can support us. I guarantee if you do you’re gonna put your head on your pillow every night knowing that you help somebody in need and that’s what we love.”