by Suzanne Woods Fisher
“Don’t worry what you could do if you lived your life over; get busy with what’s left.” Amish proverb
Can one person make a difference? Even a woman who might be, say, considered a wee bit elderly?
Consider Victoria Williams of Richmond, California. Eleven years ago, when Victoria was 77 (did you catch that? She was seventy-seven years old!), she saw a need in her community for a weekly soup kitchen. She knew she was a good cook, but she would need some qualifications to serve others. So she took the required courses for food safety and preparation and got to work.
On Thursday mornings, Victoria-known in her community as Mother Williams-prepares food in her church’s kitchen that she has gathered from the local Food Bank and from donations. On Fridays, she serves lunch.
“For a very long time, Mother Williams worked in the soup kitchen alone,” volunteer Becky Blakey said. “She had a creative system. First she would use her cane to prop open the door, then she would pull the boxes of food into the kitchen with her cane.”
After a video was made about Mother Williams, it was shown at my church. Mother Williams was in attendance that morning and received a standing ovation from the congregation. Becky Blakey went up to meet Mother Williams to ask if she could come and help prep food on Thursdays. Of course! Mother Williams told her.
Becky started to volunteer regularly. Soon, her friends joined her. “Mother Williams has a couple of rules,” Becky said. “She wants those who come for lunch to be served so they don’t stand in a cafeteria-like line. They have a place to sit at a table and are served a plate of food. And before everyone eats, she insists they hear a word from the Lord. ‘Jesus gave you this day,’ she says. ‘He didn’t have to do that, but He did. So now we are going to hear His words.’ And then she’ll read a few verses of Scripture.”
Currently, at age 88, Mother Williams and her team of volunteers serve over one hundred lunches every Friday.
The Calling, book 2 in the ‘Inn at Eagle Hill’ series (Revell), was inspired by Mother Williams. In the novel, though, it took five Amish sisters to do the work of one Mother Williams. It’s a story about a young woman, Bethany Schrock, who feels lost and derailed and not at all sure she wants to remain Amish. Those five sisters scoop her under their wing and get her busy in the soup kitchen. Reluctant at first, Bethany starts to discover that amazing mystery: we find ourselves by losing ourselves.
Can one person make a difference? Yes.
At any age? Absolutely!
Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling, award-winning author of ‘The Stoney Ridge Seasons’ series and ‘The Lancaster County Secrets’ series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. She has a free downloadable app, Amish Wisdom, that delivers a daily Amish proverb to your phone. Suzanne lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area but can be found on-line at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com. She loves to connect with readers!