Elementary school teacher volunteers to make soup for Soup Kitchen
Two weeks after Calvary Baptist Church started a Soup Kitchen on Saturday, Dec. 6, 2009, in the former parsonage beside the church, Betty Dumas, a church member and elementary school teacher, asked its founder Peggie Troutt, "How can you call it a soup kitchen if you don't make soup?"
By the next month, Betty was making the soup and then became assistant manager. She continued teaching full time.
"I decided to be the soup lady, but I didn't know how to make soup," she said. "I went home and looked in some cookbooks to learn how to make it."
The Soup Kitchen started with six guests, but now an average of 130 are served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.
That means there is need for more soup, especially given that some guests may eat six bowls.
Betty is continually learning and finding recipes based on the food they have or ingredients she buys.
"Sometimes I make medley soup from whatever is left over. I put it in a blender," she said. "It's different all the time. It may be potato soup, corn soup, bean soup, chicken rice or chicken noodle soup. If they like it and rave, I make it again.
"It also depends what food we have in storage. We have plenty of beans. Sometimes I go to the store and buy some cream of chicken soup to add to what I make," she said.
When she goes on a one-week vacation, she makes soup ahead.
Both Betty and her late husband had worked in restaurants when they were younger. At one point, she suggested they open a restaurant. He said no, so "this is my restaurant, working as a volunteer."
Betty comes at 7:30 a.m., to have the soup ready when the other cooks come at 8 a.m. to prepare home-cooked meals.
"We pray before we open the doors," said Peggie, telling that the idea for the soup kitchen came to her as a vision. When she shared it with her pastor, the Rev. C. W. Andrews, he said he had had a similar vision for 16 years.
She did research and wrote up a proposal she took to the church's quarterly meeting.
"It's amazing what God has helped us do with Second Harvest food and donations from people in the church and community," Peggie said.
"We serve thousands of meals quarterly to our honored guests," she said. "We would not be able to do this without the support of the church, community, family and friends.
Betty added that "the Lord said, 'When I was hungry, you fed me. When I was in jail, you visited me.' Everyone who comes appreciates the meal. Some give $1 to $20, some thank us. Preparing the meal is what God wants us to do."
"God says we are all the same. We need to be humble to be here," said Betty.
The soup kitchen also provides clothing, which she helps hang on a rack outside.
Several families bring their children—ages eight and up—to help. Schools and parents can send students for service learning and community service, scheduling through Peggie
"People feel good to serve. Some come every Saturday," Peggie said. "Sometimes it is necessary to turn volunteers away because it can be too crowded in that little house, so it's important for me to schedule volunteers.
"The Lord tells us that if we want him in our lives, we need to have faith," Betty said. "I want to do what God would have us do. God gave us a guide to follow in the Bible, which we are to study, accept and use."
Betty was teaching full time when she began as "soup lady."
She taught 46 years at Finch Elementary School—mostly third grade—before she retired in 2015. Soon she was back at the school from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., four days a week as a volunteer to tutor students who have behavior problems or need extra help.
Betty, who grew up in Georgia, moved to Spokane in 1963 when she and her husband came with the Air Force. She earned a bachelor's degree in 1973 at Eastern Washington University after raising her three children.
She volunteered at Grant Elementary School, which her children attended, and studied at Eastern Washington University on a district program for "super aides" to work in the classroom with teachers and with a program called Career Opportunity. She worked at school part of the day while attending college. After graduating, she worked a year at Sheridan Elementary School and then was offered a position at Finch.
Now as a volunteer who is working one-on-one in an office with children teachers send, Betty continues her love of teaching and passion for children
Recently, she helped a kindergarten child who did not want to come to school. After she met with him a while, he said he loved school.
"Some students need attention they do not get in the classroom as teachers move the classes along to keep up with the curriculum," said Betty, recalling that she used to work with children in small groups. Some who were more able could do assignments on their own. She worked with low-performing children until they were at grade level.
"Now teachers send children to me for 'the Dumas touch.' The students are grateful. I work for them, not the district, the teachers or their parents," she said.
She meets with about 16 children a week.
"I want to be a light for the Lord, to let people see Jesus through me. Jesus' light shines through me and leads me to people I need to be with. I feel in my spirit what God wants me to do and say," said Betty, who previously directed Calvary's youth, young adult and men's choirs, and the main choir, which is now called The Voices of Calvary.
"If we can help a brother or sister, we are to do it," she said, whether it's with hungry people at the soup kitchen, with children needing help to improve learning skills or anywhere in the community.
For information, call 747-8793.
Copyright@ The Fig Tree, mJanuary, 2019