During the past 25 years, Gloria Suess has done every volunteer duty at Mary’s Kitchen, a non-profit organization that provides food and services to homeless people in Orange County.
“I have peeled, mashed and served the potatoes. I have made chicken soup, I have made the fruit and green salad, and prepared the entrée, whatever it is, from hamburger to steak,” said Suess.
In 1990, when Suess was secretary and treasurer, she helped Mary’s Kitchen obtain its 501(3) (c) status.
Mary’s Kitchen began in 1984, when 82-year old Mary McAnena helped a homeless woman in Hart Park in Orange. Four years later, Suess joined other volunteers who were cooking food at McAnena’s house and transporting it to Hart Park where they served homeless men, women and children.
Now President of the Board of Directors and CEO of Mary’s Kitchen, Suess has seen the organization grow over the years. In 1994, the kitchen moved to its present location on Struck Avenue in Orange.
Suess has also seen the number of volunteers grow. “We probably have 100 seasoned volunteers and then over the week we will have another hundred who are doing community service, Christian service, welfare, etcetera,” said Suess.
Approximately 180 people come to Mary’s Kitchen each day for breakfast, a hot meal and a bag lunch to go for dinner. The kitchen also offers hot showers and clean clothes.
Suess, who’s at the kitchen almost every day said, “It is always an honor and a joy to serve the Lord through the less fortunate.”
McAnena passed away in 2003 at age 100, but Suess said, “When Mary looks down and sees what improvements we have done physically and how we have grown in our offered services, she would say, ‘Thanks be to God.’”