I just returned home this week from California and our highly successful wildfire response. The feedback we are receiving from local officials, the Salvation Army and others is almost overwhelming. When Mercy Chefs came into one of the main shelters responding to the Kincade Fire, the entire atmosphere changed. And now Officials want Mercy Chefs more involved in any future disaster response.
We've staged one of our mobile kitchens in California for the remainder of the fire season. Also, I met with state disaster leaders at the shelter we served and they want to further partner with Mercy Chefs in the future.
Why the favor? I believe it's God's blessing on this ministry -- along with our determination to feed "body and soul" with the best possible food served with love and care. For example, one evening for dinner last week we served barbecue chicken, macaroni and cheese, carrots with herbs, a fresh salad with balsamic vinaigrette, and a piece of fresh apple crisp for dessert.
We serve meals we would beproud to serve at our homes to distinguished guests! And this attention to excellence lets those who are facing the trauma of a natural disaster know that they really matter. That someone cares.
+ + One of our busiest Fall seasons ever
Since Labor Day, I personally have been almost constantly on the road -- home for just a few days here and there to attend to business and get some rest. This has been one of the busiest, most complex and most rewarding seasons in Mercy Chefs' history. And we're still going strong every day -- through our community kitchens and our ongoing efforts in both the Bahamas and Haiti.
Right in the midst of the hurricane season, we launched our Mercy Chefs community kitchen in Panama City, Florida, as our long-term response to Hurricane Michael. Local officials estimate that there are a staggering 1.79 MILLION missing meals annually now in Bay County. Every week, this kitchen is meeting a tremendous need, especially for the many children whose families still haven't recovered from that storm.
Almost simultaneously, we launched another community kitchen at our home base in Virginia. Through these community kitchens, Mercy Chefs is creating a fresh, new model for meeting critical local needs that I believe will be replicated across the country.
Internationally, we are still deeply engaged in both Haiti and the Bahamas. In Haiti, we are so close to completing the reconstruction of our kitchen that was destroyed by fire, but we must wait for the unrest and violence to get under control. At this time, we cannot even make travel arrangements due to safety concerns.
In the Bahamas, Mercy Chefs has open requests to establish kitchen relief operations on the three main islands. Our main focus continues to be Abaco and what I believe is a God-inspired plan to rebuild that island by rebuilding the churches first. Our partners have identified 16 churches on Abaco that will be the focus of our efforts. Our plan is to build a kitchen and lodging facility with permanent staff that can first rebuild pastors' homes and these churches so that the church can be at the very epicenter of the restoration process. This is one of the most exciting post-disaster rebuilding projects I have ever come across, and Mercy Chefs is at the heart of the plan!
+ + First Holiday Meals THIS WEEKEND!
On top of all this, this weekend we are launching our holiday outreaches that annually provide thousands of meals to those in need. Saturday we will be serving two special event meals in Panama City, and then on Monday our team will be in Claremore, Oklahoma, providing hot meals to veterans after a special Veteran's Day parade.
In summary, God is doing an amazing work through your partnership with Mercy Chefs. Almost every week this Fall, we've been deployed in response to a natural disaster. And week after week, our community kitchens are serving up thousands of meals to those in need. But there is so much more do to. The doors opening before us both inspire me and challenge my faith.
Simply put, we are needing faithful friends to stand with us in a special way, especially between now and the end of the year.
Will you help? This month, we'll serve thousands of meals. But our resources have been stretched to the max by our response to multiple disasters and our ongoing work. Your gift today will help provide a hot meal to a needy person almost right away. Go here to make your tax-deductible gift to Mercy Chefs:
God bless you,
Gary LeBlanc, Founder
P.S. In just the next few weeks, we'll serve thousands of meals. And then thousands more as holiday season arrives. Please help. Go here.
Also, if you can help us MONTHLY, it would be a great blessing! Go here to set up a recurring, monthly tax-deductible contribution: