GOLDSBORO, NC, UNITED STATES
Story by Staff Sgt. Mary McKnight
SEYMOUR JOHNSON AFB, N.C. (Sept. 13, 2019) – “I put a lot of love into the food,” said Susan M. Britt, a cook at the Community Soup Kitchen of Goldsboro. “I try to make it creative, good and tasty for them; so they can have a nice meal and enjoy it.”
The food Britt prepared is the same food that volunteers from the 916th Force Support Squadron, served at the soup kitchen during their annual tour, Sept. 9-23.
“I figured that if we’re going to be here in our local community doing our annual tour,” said Master Sgt. Nathan L. Rentfrow, 916 FSS first sergeant. “What better way to give back to a community that supports us so much than to get out into the community and help serve those in need.”
That’s exactly what Rentfrow and his troops signed up for by supporting the Goldsboro community over a two week period.
With 25 people on annual tour, to include myself, I coordinated with the director of the soup kitchen to rotate all of us for three days a week, two hours a day, for the next two weeks, said Rentfrow.
With that, the seeds were planted toward fulfilling the Whole Airmen Concept, which includes leadership, job performance, significant self-improvement and base/community involvement.
The volunteers here today are doing what they would be doing in a deployed environment, prepping and serving food, said Rentfrow.
Similarly, the soup kitchen has been preparing and serving food to the community since Dec. 15, 1980.
“Everyone has their reasons why they are in here today,” said Doricia L. Benton, director of the Community Soup Kitchen of Goldsboro. “There are no questions asked. All are welcomed and I emphasize all, because they don’t have to sign up. They do not have to qualify and it’s been like that since day one. They are welcome to come six days a week, 52 weeks a year.”
Two years ago, Benton expanded the services of the soup kitchen.
“I started the Alphabet Soup Homework club,” said Benton. “On Wednesdays, 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., I help my soup babies with their homework. We have crafts, reading and of course homework. Every child that participates gets supper to take home, for themselves and members in their household.”
Being a nonprofit organization, the soup kitchen runs off of 100 percent donations, volunteers and a small permanent staff.
“I think it’s a wonderful thing when the base volunteers in the community,’ said Benton. “Whether it be the soup kitchen or any other organization. Here, I think it’s special because a lot of my friends are veterans as well.”
Like Benton, the 916th Mission Support Group commander thinks this was a great opportunity for troops to come out and serve the community.
“They are tying readiness training in with community service,” said Lt. Col. Joseph Winchester, 916 MSG commander. “I couldn’t be more proud of these Airmen for stepping up, Sgt. Rentfrow is probably mad at me for bringing attention to this act of service. This is the kind of thing you don’t want credit for, and you do it because it’s the right thing to do.”