A grill and volunteers keep 18-year tradition going

10:32 PM, Jan 17, 2014   |    comments
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DownTown Ministries volunteers chat with the homeless

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- A hot meal and good company is about as good as it gets on a cold January night. For 18 years, the homeless people in Grand Rapids have gotten both.

That's thanks to a grill and volunteers who keep passing on the torch at DownTown Ministries. The regulars can smell Gary Kitzrow and Mark Oosterheert's cooking, even before they spot the grill.

"We're not here to feed them, the food brings them in but we just want to build a relationship with them," said Oosterheert.

Kitzrow and Oosterheert are talking about the homeless. Oosterheert has been cooking them meals for eight years at DownTown Ministries. Kitzrow, four.

"We're Just showing God's love, our way of giving back," said Oosterheert. Kitzrow was inspired by his daughter, Bethany who also brought his wife over years ago. "I've seen people who were really struggling with alcoholism who are now closest to us and are now the biggest part of our family," said Bethany.

Tom Kohler looks forward to Mark and Gary's friendly faces every week. "The company's great, usually come and sit next to you. They'll talk to you and everything," he said. "When I see all the volunteers it amazes me how many miracles are around," said Charles Maples, another homeless man.

The Kitzrows and Oosterheerts have no intent on passing along their duties, and with more eager young volunteers walking in the door, the 18-year tradition of DownTown Ministries is bound to live on.

DownTown Ministries has a Facebook page(http://on.fb.me/KocWvz) where you can find information about volunteering. They see hundreds of people in the summer looking for meals.

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