Center of Hope: a place for food and friends

Melody Wachowski

Volunteering may be the last thing on students’ minds as they reach the end of a grueling semester, but Sue Morrison and Deanna Kline find the experience rewarding and heartwarming.

The two women volunteer every Tuesday at the Center of Hope in Ravenna.

Morrison, a Kent State alumna, spent 31 years teaching elementary education, in addition to many summers volunteering.

“This is so different from my regular work that it doesn’t seem like work at all,” Morrison said.

Morrison said she began volunteering as a favor to a friend, but she now is at the Center of Hope every week, serving hot meals to hungry people.

Kline grew up in Kent and worked for 32 years as a medical assistant before she retired and started volunteering regularly.

“I feel like I am paying back for all that I have been given throughout my lifetime,” Kline said. “The best part of my work here is when people come up after the meal, saying it was good and asking for a hug.”

“People have even called us the best restaurant in town,” she said.

“Seeing the smiles on kids’ faces when you give them a cookie, or a whole box of cookies, makes everything worthwhile.”

Being a listener and friend are two of the biggest parts of Morrison’s and Kline’s duties, Center of Hope director Darrell Fullman said.

It is very important to help the people who come in not feel inferior just because they are going through a rough patch, Morrison said.

“An older man visited the pantry one day, and he had tears in his eyes,” Kline said. “He told me, ‘You know, I don’t want to have to be here,’ and I told him, ‘We aren’t here to judge; we just want to help. What can I do for you?'”

Contact social services reporter Melody Wachowski at [email protected].