The word stewpot conjures up a vivid image of a large, steaming pot filled with something nourishing and good. And that is exactly what Stewpot Community Services is all about. It is the coming together of a community of people, each contributing what they can of their time and talents, finding ways to serve the needs of those in their community.
That’s what happened in 1981, when representatives from seven churches in Jackson, Mississippi came together across denominational lines, to discuss a problem they all had in common – meeting the needs for food and assistance of downtown Jackson’s poor and homeless. These seven churches – Calvary Baptist, Capitol Street Methodist, Central Presbyterian, Galloway United Methodist, St. Andrew’s Episcopal, St. Peters’ Catholic and St. James Episcopal – pooled their ideas and resources to find solutions and created what was very appropriately named Stewpot Community Services.
From the beginning, the goal of Stewpot was to promote, develop, stimulate and encourage physical and spiritual development by providing nutritious meals to the community. The Stewpot kitchen was a success almost instantly. The Community Kitchen provides a noontime meal to anyone who needs it – no questions asked – seven days a week, 365 days a year. In 1982, the success of the soup kitchen inspired the establishment of a Food Pantry, and this mini-grocery store now provides a four-day emergency supply of food for applicants found to be in serious need of assistance.
Throughout the years since Stewpot was founded, its mission has continuously grown from providing meals for the hungry to providing shelter for homeless women and children and later for homeless men. These shelters not only offer a safe, warm bed, but also provide family counseling, financial planning, drug and alcohol counseling, and assistance with finding permanent housing and employment, as well as programs for children, even clothing for those in need.
Many of us have been blessed to never experience what it means to be hungry and have no idea where or when we’ll have our next meal. We have homes and families to return to each night where warm beds await us. How easy it is to forget that while we enjoy our own bountiful blessings there are those who are not so fortunate. It is for those individuals that Stewpot exists, and thanks to the Stewpot staff, volunteers and contributors who help to support it financially, our neighbors in need do not have to go it alone. When you think about it, there is no higher calling.
… for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ ~ Matthew 25:35-40 (NKJV)
Stewpot was created by the faith community to serve downtown Jackson’s poor and homeless: Representatives from seven Jackson churches joined together in 1981 to assist those in need.
Stewpot isn’t just a place to get a hot meal: Stewpot Community Services provides a wide range of facilities and programs to help men, women and children.
Billy Brumfield – The Billy Brumfield Shelter, is a shelter for up to 60 men a night, which provides shelter, food and support.
Bratton Street Project – This is a community redevelopment program which has renovated 15 homes with the help of Stewpot and Habitat for Humanity, and 3 more are in progress.
Chapel – Stewpot hosts inter-faith worship services six days a week immediately preceding lunch at the Community Kitchen.
Children’s Program – The Neighborhood Children’s Program provides an atmosphere of love and second chances for all the children who pass through its doors.
Clothing Closet – The Clothing Closet is stocked with quality clothing donated by generous individuals, and offered free of charge.
Community Clinics – Three clinics make up this service: the Legal Clinic which provides free legal counsel by the MS Volunteer Lawyers Project; St Dominic’s Health Clinic, offering primary care to low-income families and homeless individuals; and the Counseling Clinic, offering access to trained family counselors.
Community Kitchen – The very heart of Stewpot is the noon meal, serving physical and spiritual nourishment from the staff and volunteers 365 days a year.
Computer Lab – The Computer Lab offers free job training, GED and Internet classes.
Food Pantry – The Food Pantry is a mini-grocery store that provides a four-day supply of food to carefully screened applicants.
Meals on Wheels – Each weekday, volunteers make and deliver plate lunches to more than 50 elderly, ill, and disabled people who cannot make it out.
Opportunity Center – As the only day shelter in the city, Opportunity Center provides a safe, clean place for homeless men and women to be during the daytime hours.
Virginia’s Playhouse – Virginia’s Playhouse offers a variety of morning activities for the elderly and mentally disabled.
Women’s Services – Two facilities make up this area: Matt’s House, an emergency shelter named for our former Executive Director, Matt Devenney, provides shelter for homeless women who have no other place to go; and Flowers House, offers a safe and comfortable emergency shelter for homeless women with children.
After-school Program – The After-school Program provides a safe haven and loving, nurturing environment where both children and teens can get educational assistance, build self-esteem and interact with positive role models whose goal is to see them graduate and live full, successful lives.
There are many ways you can help to support Stewpot Community Services: You volunteer; you can make a tax deductible donation or offer a monetary gift in someone’s name, and you can attend a fundraising event. For more about how you can help Stewpot continue its mission of service, call 601-353-2759 or visit www.stewpot.org.