Society

Need to Feed

Emmaus Project: Their mission is to “bring people together in a spirit of joy to show God’s love through community service.”
BY MARIE BAKKEN Reporter Staff Writer


From left, Brad Owens, Noelia Cigarroa-Cooke, Nicole Gimon and Darrell Johnson get the assembly line going for the 150 plates of food that are delivered every other week through the Rockdale Emmaus Project. 
Photos courtesyRockdale Emmaus Project From left, Brad Owens, Noelia Cigarroa-Cooke, Nicole Gimon and Darrell Johnson get the assembly line going for the 150 plates of food that are delivered every other week through the Rockdale Emmaus Project. Photos courtesyRockdale Emmaus Project Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up forever.— Psalm 28:9

When the Emmaus Project began in Dec. 2009, organizers knew that there was a need to feed the bodies and souls of the people of Rockdale. The group has grown over the past four years as you can imagine.

Their mission is to “bring people together in a spirit of joy to show God’s love through community service.” The project is catered to reach out to the community.

One the first, third and fifth Saturdays of the month, Emmaus Project prepares and delivers hot meals to about 150 Rockdale area residents. The plates are delivered to a variety of homes, from widowed shut-ins to large-family homes.


Prep work for the meals begins well before delivery. Here (l-r) Noelia Cigarroa-Cooke, Michelle Tibbitts and Elicia Tibbitts get their hands dirty. Prep work for the meals begins well before delivery. Here (l-r) Noelia Cigarroa-Cooke, Michelle Tibbitts and Elicia Tibbitts get their hands dirty. Since its inception, and behind organizer Brad Owens, the group has served more than 14,000 meals.

They have also done some home-repair projects and support area prision and substance abuse recovery ministries. The group also gave presents to the children of the families that are served.

And to serve others, the most important thing you must have is volunteers to help in all aspects of the ministry.

BLESSING, SERVANTS— Mike and Gloria Zapata and their children Michael and Bianca began volunteering with Emmaus over the summer and said it has been such a wonderful experience for them.


Mother and daughter, Gloria and Bianca Zapata, prepare fruit bags for the Emmaus meal delivery. Mother and daughter, Gloria and Bianca Zapata, prepare fruit bags for the Emmaus meal delivery. “It has been such a blessing to be a servant (of God),” Mike Zapata said. “We are getting to meet and be able to talk with others that we might not have had the opportunity to do so in other settings.”

He is also happy that his children are involved in the food ministry.

“There was another volunteer who added a friend to the list, but wanted someone else to go minister to her. Gloria and I decided to do it,” Mike said. “The young lady was sitting in her back yard and at first she was stone-faced, but then she said ‘some days I just want God to hug me’. Well, Gloria just wrapped her arms around the young lady and they embraced for a long time. The young lady just didn’t want to let that go. It was really a turning point in that young woman’s life. I am happy my kids get to see that.”

They understand it is about showing up with God’s love, not just a meal.

“We bring them a plate of food, but really we are bringing them so much more,” Mike said.

SHOWING LOVE—Prep work for the meals start the week prior too, with the planning and purchasing of the meals.

Noelia Cigarroa-Cooke, who admits she loves to cook, helps with the food preparation and says a lot of the cooking takes place on Fridays, prior to delivery Saturdays.

She said that Emmaus gives her a chance to show God’s love without forcing religion on people.

“It is a way to show a little bit of love and encouragement to those who are neglected— some living in horrible conditions, others who are sick or some who are just in a rough spot,” Cigarroa-Cooke said. “I want to show them the hands and face of Jesus without telling them they have to do all the other stuff.”

VOLUNTEERS—The volunteers meet at their building at 901 E. Belton in Rockdale around 9:30 a.m. on the planned Saturday mornings, assemble the plates and are on their way out, on six different routes, to deliver a hot meal and God’s shining light about 11 a.m.

“We are believing for God to take care of our needs (for the project),” Denise Sifuentes, a Emmaus Project director said. “It is a wonderful thing if people can get-together and do this and serve together.”

Volunteers are always needed to help with the Emmaus Project. If you want to volunteer, there is always room for cooks, assembly line personnel and delivery drivers.

If you would like to volunteer with the Rockdale Emmaus Project or would like more information about it, visit the group’s Facebook page or email emmaus.rockdale@gmail.com or call 512-429-0362.

The group’s next feeding is Saturday, Feb. 1.


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2014-01-30 digital edition



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