My teenagers remind me on a daily basis that my overly nurturing ways are no longer necessary. I get it. I know. This is the natural cycle of things. Yet, as much as I find this release of responsibility freeing, I’m left with a hole I’ve been trying to fill. Initially, I picked up a few additional writing gigs, consumed many books, then started my master’s degree, but it was all just not enough. Something was still missing, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Coincidentally, I received an email from Evergreen Christian Outreach (EChO) requesting “Crockpot Club” volunteers. I like cooking in my crockpot… this sounds right up my alley! But I had it all wrong. The Crockpot Club doesn’t actually make the meals for those in need in our community. Instead, they assemble all the ingredients for a nutritious meal to be made at home.

EChO has been a fixture in the mountain area for over 30 years with a “Client Services Department that offers a range of wraparound services to assist community members who are facing personal or economic adversity” including the food bank, which provides fresh and refrigerated food staples along with pantry items. One of the most popular items used to be the frozen dinner tray meals—not necessarily the healthiest, but certainly the easiest. Shoppers are now finding the same ease of cooking with a crockpot even more satisfying. So much so that people often inquire with happy anticipation about what each month’s meals will be. Many have also mentioned they’ve rediscovered a love for cooking.

Once over 100 free crockpots were distributed, every other week a handful of volunteers (led by yours truly) assemble ingredients based on a recipe created by a nutritionist. Meals range from Overnight Oats with Fruit, Bison Stew, and Corn Chowder to the all-time favorite, Brown Sugar Garlic Chicken Thighs. Recipes typically make

3-5 servings, allowing for leftovers. Individuals learn to prepare food for themselves and their families which fosters a sense of empowerment and independence. As the ancient Chinese proverb states, “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”

Little did I know volunteering would be what I needed to fill the hole my children so casually ripped in my heart by growing up. Helping with EChO’s Crockpot Club has provided me with a purposeful outlet that I am proud to be a part of.

If you or someone you know would benefit from the Crockpot Club program, or if you’d like to volunteer in some way, please call 303.670.1796. More info can be found at