Behind the Scenes With an Unsung Hero
Her name is familiar to many in Paducah, but the numerous acts of kindness that Sally Michelson shares with the community are often done when no one else is looking and for no monetary reward.
In 2008, the minister at Sally’s church asked her if she would like to help feed the hungry. Without hesitation she answered, “Yes.” From that moment, she entered a new season of life, a season in which her love for people and her love for God would converge to help provide food and spiritual nourishment to people from all walks of life.
Sally is the Executive Director at the Paducah Community Kitchen, a program that serves about 1,000 meals each week to the hungry who live in the area. The organization is open to anyone who needs a meal, including families who are struggling to make ends meet, and individuals who lack the life skills to function independently in society. The organization serves lunch Monday through Friday and offers a place for patrons to do laundry, take showers and to receive assistance in getting connected to other services that they need to survive and thrive.
“Some of the people we serve need us to be a voice for them,” Sally says. “Some of them don’t have the life skills or reasoning skills to pull themselves out of situations that are not good for them.”
No matter in what circumstances patrons find themselves living, they will all find love and acceptance with Sally and the volunteers at Community Ministries.
“It’s a miracle of the Lord that we are here. He blesses the people who come through these doors,” Sally says.
Friendly faces fill the building each day to ensure that guests are fed and that their needs are addressed. There are weekly church services held at the Community Kitchen on Saturday nights. Hair stylists donate their services to offer free haircuts on the third Monday of every month. Volunteers find Sally praying with patrons and offering a listening ear.
“I have never really wanted for anything,” Sally says. “It’s very humbling when you first start serving (at the Community Kitchen). I would come home and cry for the first couple of years…I still cry. But when you read (God’s) Word, you know you’re supposed to get out and do what it says.”
Sally, like other volunteers, is not paid for the work she does at the Community Kitchen. She volunteers her time and her talents to help those around her. Her compassion, her leadership and her love for others are the things that inspired VUE Magazine to select Sally as the Difference Maker of the month for November.
Sally doesn’t see herself as a philanthropist or as someone worthy of great praise. She simply wants to be a person who brings joy and hope to those who have nothing to give in return.
“Coming here and helping people get a better life is more rewarding than anyone can imagine, and it’s all God, not me. The Word says that we are to care for those who are in need. I feel comfortable with this. I have always felt comfortable here,” Sally says.
Perhaps Sally’s comfort level is what makes the Community Kitchen a safe place for so many individuals and families who are in need of support from others. In some ways the facility has become a breeding ground for building healthy relationships among the guests who enter the doors.
“So many of the people we work with need you to listen to their story. They live lives just like us,” Sally says. “Many of the people we see are very loving, very giving people. When they get to know you, they open up and share things with you. It’s a joy; it really is.”
While Sally finds immense satisfaction in the work she does, she also believes that blessings come to those who joyfully give of themselves to others.
“The more we are given, the more responsibility we have to give (to others),” Sally says. “The more we give, the more God gives us. It’s funny how that works.”
Sally leads 60 to 80 volunteers each week. She knows that her role at the Community Kitchen is vital to enriching the lives of those the non-profit organization serves.
“We’ve created a community here,” Sally says. “If everyone would love their one neighbor what a difference it would make.”
The VUE Difference Maker program is sponsored by West Kentucky Garage Builders and Socially Present. Nominations for future monthly awards can be submitted online at inthevue.com.
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