William Pendergrass has been cooking at The Salvation Army of Greensboro’s Center of Hope kitchen for 13 years. He prepares three meals a day for approximately 80 people, the men women and children who have nowhere else to go, but have a desire to turn their life around. William hopes to fill their stomachs and souls with food that will help them get back on their feet. He has a passion for cooking and serving others and it’s evident by the ever-present smile on his face.
This summer William has been able to take his cooking to a new level with the help of a community partner. It wasn’t a new oven that volunteers from Home Depot delivered on an early morning back in May. The team of employees arrived with a truck full of supplies to build the Center of Hope’s first community garden.
The group labored in the heat and humidity to build, fill with dirt, and plant five raised garden beds. They didn't know it that day, but what the Home Depot volunteers planted, was much more than vegetables and herbs.
They planted savings. To date, the community garden has saved The Salvation Army more than $2,000 from our food purchasing budget because of the amount of produce the garden has yielded. William makes two to three trips a week to the garden to harvest what has ripened.
The team of volunteers also planted inspiration. The new crop of fresh vegetables has allowed William to create a few new dishes. His eggplant and onions has been a big hit with some of the Center of Hope residents. He’s added a little heat to his chili with the hot red peppers. The fresh tomatoes, red and green peppers have been a welcome addition to sandwiches and salads. He’s also included zucchini, banana peppers, basil and mint in other plates he prepares.
William said, “You can taste the freshness with these vegetables. I can see the smile it puts on the faces of those we serve, and nothing makes me happier.”
Plans are already underway to make the garden bigger for next year.