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Christ Kitchen caters many events, like Jubilee : Packaging beans changes lives

Kim Kelley coordinates work at Christ Kitchen.

Kim Kelly understands the struggles of many women who come through the doors of Christ Kitchen seeking to find new paths for their lives.

Her early years were a struggle, growing up as the child of a teen mother living in an abandoned house in North Central Spokane.

“I have a passion to help women,” said Kim, executive director of the program that offers Bible study, job skills, a restaurant, packaged food and catering for events such as the Jubilee Sale at First Presbyterian Church, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 3 to 4.

It caters that event each year, and also has a booth where it sells some of its 46 packaged products—dry mixes for desserts, soups, sides, snacks and holiday treats.  The labels on each have Bible verses.

Christ Kitchen caters other events for churches and for nonprofits.

“My mother was a great mother, because great saints came alongside her,” Kim said.

“Christ Kitchen is a community of women who come alongside women in need and give them godly guidance. The women may be down on their luck, may be experiencing abuse, addiction or mental breakdowns, or may be just out of jail,” said Kim.

Jan Martinez founded Christ Kitchen 20 years ago out of her work with Christ Clinic, which was originally in Westminster Presbyterian Church in West Central Spokane. 

Christ Kitchen moved to 2410 N. Monroe, and then Christ Clinic, which closed in February, moved next door.

Jan was director until recently, when she wanted to cut back hours so she could promote her book, Christ Kitchen, telling her journey and the program’s business plan.

Now she travels to speak and has started a foundation, By the Well, to support women who want to start an organization like Christ Kitchen.

Kim came to Christ Kitchen six years ago to do sales and marketing.  She became the director when Jan cut back. Jan now comes Tuesdays and Thursdays as a volunteer.

Kim, who married her high school sweetheart, Ed, believes God created the skill set she needed to lead Christ Kitchen.

She and her husband came to know the Lord when she was 38 and in the ninth month of her pregnancy with the third of her four children.  They began attending Calvary Chapel.  For 15 years, they have been active in Timberview Christian Fellowship, a Free Methodist Church in Mead.

Kim studied business and marketing at Trend Business College and Kinman, finishing in 1988.  She then worked in restaurant and hotel management, where she saw the brokenness of people in that field.

Seeking to make an impact through a nonprofit, she began working as development director at Olive Crest, an agency helping abused and neglected children. 

“I was broken.  You can’t see the abuse without having a broken heart or you would be numb,” she said.

Learning of Christ Kitchen, she believes God brought her there to love women.

 Packaging beans and other products is an avenue for God to change lives, Kim said.

 “When God changes women’s lives, it changes their children’s lives and the lives of future generations. The impact on God’s Kingdom is incredible,” she said. “I have seen women change even though the world has told them they are worthless.   Then they learn they are children of God.”

From 8:30 to 10 a.m. on Thursdays, women come and start the day with Bible study.  Then some work in the kitchen filling packages and others work in the restaurant area sealing them. They are on payroll.

At noon, church women bring lunch.  They break bread together and share prayer requests until 1 p.m.

Some stay to clean up.

The program has a 1969 food truck for catering. 

In addition to Kim, there are two part-time production supervisors, Linda in the kitchen and Amy in the front sealing packages.  Kari Kelli is development manager.

Over the years, Christ Kitchen has served thousands of women, Kim said.  The number each week varies. There are now 17 on the payroll. There have been up to 40.

The women who work have to be clean and sober—confirmed by random drug tests—and they have to get along with the other women.

Women come from many backgrounds.  Some have untreated mental health issues.  Some are drug addicted.  Some are prostitutes. Some are homeless.  Some have stories that are hard to fathom, said Kim.

Women hear about Christ Kitchen in prison, on the street or from friends.

Kim said that nationally, 43 million women live in poverty and 28 million children are affected by poverty. In Spokane, 21,000 women are poor. 

“I can’t imagine having to choose between paying rent or putting food on the table in the richest nation in the world!” she said.

“We can make a difference,” Kim said.  “I see it every day.”

How long women come varies.

“Our job is to love a woman well, to teach the truth of God’s Word, to give life skills so she is self-sufficient and Christ dependent,” said Kim, who has also been women’s ministry director for 13 years at Timberview and is studying online and evenings at Whitworth University to be ordained in the Free Methodist Church.

Christ Kitchen offers women skills in customer service, marketing, cooking, baking, catering and ministry.

In the intake process, a staff member learns their backgrounds and helps them set goals to participate in Bible study consistently and discover their passion. 

One woman wanted to be a food sampler at Costco, gained skills to do that and now works at the school bus company. 

Another wanted to go back to school to train as an x-ray technician.

In the summer, Laura came, “a beautiful woman who did not see her beauty,” Kim said. “She has been clean and sober 20 days and is open to the Lord’s love and people who love the Lord.

 “When women with no faith background come and learn what Jesus says about them, job skills come.  The truth of Jesus changes their hearts so they hope. With great hope there is great transformation,” Kim said.

Beyond Thursdays, six are paid to run the restaurant, cater meals and serve food out of the food truck.

The women  learn to do inventory, forecast, marketing, sales and customer service.

In their catering business, they deliver a sandwich, salad, fruit, dessert, water and utensils in a white box tied with a red ribbon, she said.

Christ Kitchen has no government funding. It is funded by sales and by “the saints,” individuals who donate, she said.

“We are a ministry that does a business that helps support the work,” Kim said.

Many of the women who come would not walk through the doors of a church, but as they learn of God’s love, they become comfortable going to church, Kim said.

Christ Kitchen plans its annual Gingerbread House Build-off benefit from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 10, at the historic Davenport Hotel.

For information, call 325-4343 or email sales@christkitchen.org or visit christkitchen.org.




Copyright © November 2017 - The Fig Tree