Off the Clock: Mason Staff Member Volunteers to Feed the Homeless

Posted: March 25, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

Judy Kratzer, Telecom billing administrator at George Mason, is an example of how one person can make a difference on a large scale. As a volunteer for Fairfax Area Christian Emergency and Transitional Services Inc. (FACETS), Kratzer has a small but integral role in feeding poor and homeless families in Fairfax.

FACETS is a nonprofit organization founded 13 years ago with the mission of fostering the development of strong families and safe communities. One of its “facets” is the Hot Meals Program, which helps ensure that an average of 150 homeless families get a hot meal every night. Every year, FACETS serves approximately 55,000 people, and Kratzer contributes to the effort.

Photo of Judy Kratzer

Judy Kratzer (left) prepares a meal for a homeless family

Through Lord of Life Lutheran Church, Kratzer is a team leader of one of three groups that take turns to do their part in the FACETS mission. Every three months, Kratzer and her team cook, coordinate, and distribute meals to the homeless temporarily living in various motels in the area. As team leader, Kratzer makes certain she has enough volunteers and food to feed those in need. She is one of more than 600 volunteers from 24 partner churches who help to make the program a success.

“It’s my way of giving back to the community,” says Kratzer. “I like to know I’m able to do that in some small way.”

Kratzer, who has been volunteering with FACETS for five years, says that the program not only is a great way to help those less fortunate, but is also a fun and rewarding activity. While cooking, the team is able to socialize. “We do enjoy it. It’s a time to get together and chat about what’s going on in the church and in the community,” she says.

Because the menu is regulated by FACETS and is the same each month, Kratzer’s team has been able to perfect it. They call it “goulash”–a glamorous name for spaghetti and meatballs, says Kratzer. “It might not sound that great, but once all the ingredients are in, it tastes pretty good.” The menu also includes fruit and dessert. All the food is prepared in a Board of Health-approved kitchen and delivered in vans to the sites.

Along with cooking and coordinating, Kratzer also helps deliver the meals. She often sees many of the same faces, sometimes getting updates on the health and well-being of the families they feed. She enjoys getting her own family involved in the effort. On days when the volunteer level is low, her sons are eager to pitch in and help.

In addition to serving hot meals to homeless people, FACETS also provides social work services and programs for families in emergency shelters and at two assisted housing developments, as well as manages a mentoring program for adults and youth. The organization has many opportunities for getting involved in its program. Volunteers are needed as tutors, computer instructors, drivers, teachers, and mentors. “There are so many ways to get involved,” Kratzer says. “We are always looking for new volunteers.”

For more information about FACETS, visit its web site or call Volunteer Program Manager Jenny Capone Growney at (703) 352-3268.

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