Our Daily Bread director seeks volunteers to grow ministry

Val Ross, director at Our Daily Bread, is looking to double the number of volunteers the soup kitchen utilizes. (Billy Hefton / Enid News & Eagle)

The new director at Our Daily Bread is seeking volunteers and community support to expand the ministry’s presence in the community.

Our Daily Bread, at 616 W. Randolph, serves meals to 100-300 people a day, five days a week.

Val Ross, a deacon at St. Francis Xavier and St. Gregory Catholic churches in Enid, took over the director’s post in July, after the retirement of long-time director Sandy Howard.

Originally from Chickasha, Ross was the youngest of 10 children, and grew up working in his father’s business, Ross Seed & Grain. After graduating from the University of Central Oklahoma in 1989, Ross went to work for Sherwin-Williams Paint in Ada, then Chickasha and Oklahoma City.

In 2007, Ross took a change in direction, coming to Enid to work in the hospice field in what was then his brother’s business, Ross Health Care. Ross’ path to ordained ministry came in 2013, when Deacon Tony Crispo told him he was meant to serve the church as a deacon. That call to ordination made the reason for all the different jobs and experiences of his past become clear, Ross said.

“It was like all the pieces of my life came together to form a clear picture,” Ross said. “It was a beautiful moment, because I knew God was asking me to do this. And, how do you say no to God?”

After a four-year seminary process, Ross was ordained a deacon in the Catholic Church two years ago, and began serving in ministry to Enid’s homeless population. When the director’s position became available at Our Daily Bread, Ross said it was a perfect fit for him as a deacon.

He said he’s still getting comfortable running the soup kitchen Howard led for more than two decades, but the benefit of serving others already has been great.

“I am able to see God’s hand at work and how much God loves me,” Ross said, “because he’s been preparing me for this my whole life.”

As he settles into his new role, Ross said he wants to improve the public’s understanding of who Our Daily Bread serves, and how individuals and organizations can help in that mission.

Most of the people in the soup kitchen are impoverished families with children, or elderly people seeking social interaction and a reliable nutrition source, Ross said.

Our Daily Bread has been served over the years by a dedicated corps of volunteers, Ross said, and Howard “did a great job of recruiting volunteers.”

“Some of our volunteers have been here 10-15 years,” Ross said. “It’s great to see that level of dedication, but we also love to see new faces. It’s a very noble cause and a worthy thing to do to volunteer here.”

To better serve the patrons of the soup kitchen, and make it more of a community service, Ross said Our Daily Bread needs to double its number of volunteers.

Currently, about 70 volunteers staff the kitchen, which is open from 10:30 a.m. to noon to serve clients. In order to open earlier, remain open later and allow volunteers to work in shifts, Ross said he could schedule about 140 volunteers each week. Volunteers help with food preparation, driving trucks to pick up food donations, serve meals and clean up after lunch.

While some volunteers come in at 8 a.m. and stay until cleanup is done around 2 p.m., Ross said volunteers can sign up for whatever their time allows, such as only serving, or only cleanup.

With more volunteers, Ross hopes to expand the services at Our Daily Bread and make it a place to receive fellowship and spiritual feeding, in addition to the daily meals.

He plans to offer a Bible study after meal hours starting Nov. 1, and beginning next spring, he plans to show family movies on the lawn east of Our Daily Bread. As he looks forward to his role at Our Daily Bread, Ross said he’s certain of one thing: What is needed will come.

“It’s amazing how, when there’s a need for something, it shows up at our door,” Ross said. “This is God’s house, and he provides for us.”

To volunteer with Our Daily Bread, contact Val Ross at ODBread@att.net or call (580) 242-5718. Volunteers must be 18 years old or older.

Monetary donations to support the soup kitchen can be made payable to Our Daily Bread and mailed to St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, 110 N. Madison, Enid, OK 73701.

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