Shepherd’s Office in Georgetown draws meal support from Peninsula Lakes Cares

By Glenn Rolfe
Posted 4/12/24

Gregg and Wanda Salem do not live in poverty, and neither do others who reside in Peninsula Lakes in Long Neck.

But they do everything possible to aid those who do.

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Shepherd’s Office in Georgetown draws meal support from Peninsula Lakes Cares


GEORGETOWN — Gregg and Wanda Salem do not live in poverty, and neither do others who reside in Peninsula Lakes in Long Neck.

But they do everything possible to aid those who do.

For example, on Wednesday, a menu consisting of ziti, salad and homemade desserts was served at The Shepherd’s Office, a Georgetown facility for homeless individuals or anyone hurting, lonely and hungry.

“That’s why (our neighbors) like coming here. You see what you’ve got. You realize what you’ve got, and you see what other people don’t have,” said Mr. Salem. “Many people who come here do work. They just are at a job that doesn’t pay well, or rent consumes a lot of their pay. This just gives them that extra leg up with a nice hot meal, a little boost.”

Enough food for more than 200 takeout meals was purchased, prepared, delivered and served by Peninsula Lakes volunteers, many of whom moved to Sussex County in just the past several years.

“The free meals they make for our guests will be enough to serve 250 or more meals to our homeless, hungry or lonely in Georgetown,” said the facility’s director Jim Martin. “It’s like a buzz that goes around the community. It’s like, ‘Hey, man, is that Gregg and Wanda coming tonight?’ Then, the rumor spreads that they are coming. The word spreads quick that a good, healthy meal is coming their way.”

The effort also gives The Shepherd’s Office staff a chance to take a break. “We’re still there for case management. Sometimes, people have issues or problems, and it gives us more time to do that part of it,” Mr. Martin said.

The Salems moved to Long Neck from Syracuse, New York, about three years ago.

“When we came here, there was a couple (philanthropic) things already going on. There was a lady that, every summer, did a school supply drive. There already was an ongoing food drive that we did every fall, then also a Christmas gift drive for schoolkids. That went on for a couple years,” said Mr. Salem. “But what we talked about was, everybody was good at opening up wallets and donating, but Wanda and I and a lot of others came from places where you like to donate time and talents.”

So, about a year ago, Peninsula Lakes Cares was born, including a leadership group of about 10 or 12, all with various interests, and assisting a variety of recipients.

“We have the Food Bank of Delaware in Milford. We have got Higher Ground (Outreach). We’ve got nursing homes,” Ms. Salem said.

The initiative also works with Read Aloud Delaware, as well as the National Humane Society, thanks to its animal lovers.

But, each second Wednesday of the month, The Shepherd’s Office benefits from the group’s service. It’s welcomed by its employees, including Renee Miles, the assistant food manager.

“They prepare, bring it, and they serve. They are very wonderful people,” she said. “It means a lot, and it makes my job a little easier. Sometimes, we’re not supposed to cook in here. We’re like a heat-and-serve place. When people help and bring stuff in, it makes my day a little bit lighter because, sometimes, I might leave here at 6 o’clock, and if I am coming in the next day, I am up all night cooking, which I don’t mind. I like doing stuff for people. But, usually, I am running through here like a chicken.”
Mr. Salem said he’s happy to help.

“What I really marveled at when we came with our 20-some cookers (and) eight servers — it made (the staff’s) life so easy. After we learn all the ropes, we just take over,” he added.

Peninsula Lakes Cares banks on commitment and coordination.

“We have, under PL Cares, seven, eight or nine subgroups, where there is a person that leads the effort. Each subgroup has maybe between 15 and 30 volunteers,” Mr. Salem said. “In the case of PL Cares, we’ve latched onto the second Wednesday of each month. We’ve got a following within our little group, about 25 to 30 people who regularly cook. Some people bake desserts. Also, eight to 10 people volunteer to come here, deliver food, prep it and serve it.

“We kind of look at ourselves as the conduit for people (and say,) ‘If you are interested in volunteering, contact so-and-so.’”

That interest has spread, and the group’s meal count has grown over the past year.

“We started last year about the same time. Then, it was 140 to 160 meals per week. It seems like, since late last fall, it has been up around 200 to 230 meals. Now, there are 22 to 24 people cooking Crock-Pots,” said Mr. Salem.

The members head home knowing they provided a nutritious meal for folks perhaps down on their luck.

“Absolutely, when you understand where it is also going and see what it’s all about,” said Mr. Salem. “Knock on wood, everybody has been very giving.”

Mr. Martin called the charitable work “a purpose.”

“They are trying to help someone that might need some help, and it might be the difference between them moving forward or not in their life. And, if that guy that is living in the half-million-dollar house or million-dollar house had something to do with it, it makes them feel good.”

In addition to Peninsula Lakes Cares, volunteers from the Coastal Club community come twice a month to The Shepherd’s Office, also providing dinners, he said.

Mr. Salem is hopeful other neighborhoods come onboard by connecting with Mr. Martin at 302-858-8556.

“The key takeaway is … so many communities have got the means,” Mr. Salem said, “and probably are looking for something to do.”

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