Rowan Helping Ministries guests enjoy food and football

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 5, 2012

By Karissa Minn
SALISBURY — Thanks to volunteers, donors and staff, guests of the homeless shelter in Salisbury shared in Sunday’s nationwide celebration of football, advertising and greasy food.
Austin Lyle, part-time shelter supervisor at Rowan Helping Ministries, said the TV would be tuned to the Super Bowl even without a party. The special food and gathering gives them a chance to enjoy it a bit more.
“The volunteers brought pizza and hot wings,” Lyle said. “The guests really love it.”
Some ate quietly during the football game, while others enthusiastically cheered, groaned, laughed and sang along with Madonna at halftime.
Leonard Stephens, a military veteran who has been staying at the shelter for about two weeks, said the party was a surprise to him.
“It’s great,” Stephens said. “I wasn’t expecting this. … I’m very thankful for this place doing a nice thing for us.”
Brothers Josh and Wayne Waldrop, both veterans, spent their first night at the shelter Sunday. Josh left the service in 2010 after nine years, and older brother Wayne has been out for about four years after 22 years of service.
The two rooted for opposite teams in Sunday’s game, and they both said they appreciated the party.
“Everyone looks out for everybody else here, and the staff is respectful,” Wayne Waldrop said.
For the third year, West Rowan High School JROTC students volunteered to help out with the Super Bowl event.
“It’s overall a wonderful experience,” said Destiny Blackwood, a sophomore. “I was scared at first, but now I’m happy I did it.”
The girls in the kitchen served pizza from DJ’s and Domino’s, wings from Lonestar and East Coast Wings and Grill, green beans, iced tea, banana pudding, cake and cheesecake. It was their first time volunteering at Rowan Helping Ministries.
“It makes me realize what I have right now is a blessing,” said Nakiya McCullough, a senior.
Chad Ketchie has lived at the shelter for three weeks, and he was pleasantly surprised by the Super Bowl party.
“I thought it was going to be just a regular meal, but this is nice – real nice,” he said.
Still, he said, it’s not the same as watching the big game at home with loved ones, where he hopes to be someday soon.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life,” Ketchie said. “I’m 50 years old and it’s my first time here.”
During a Chrysler commercial at halftime, Clint Eastwood could have been speaking directly to the 50 or so shelter guests in his low, gruff voice.
“People are out of work and they’re hurting. And they’re all wondering what they’re going to do to make a comeback,” the actor said. “We find a way through tough times, and if we can’t find a way, then we’ll make one.”
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.
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