Gracie’s Kitchen began serving seven dinner guests in September of 2009 as a 501c3 entity under the Homeless Coalition of Nassau County Florida umbrella. With a fully equipped and certified kitchen, separate dining room, and storage area, Gracie’s Kitchen serves single mothers, families, senior citizens, military veterans, the homeless, and the working poor of the Yulee area.
Supported by private donations, USDA foods, and Farm Share, the kitchen serves 3,000-3,500 dinners per month. Open four days a week to serve guests, this kitchen functions with 17 volunteer teams from various churches and organizations throughout the county. These teams cook, serve, and help maintain this facility, which has been generously donated to this cause by the local school board.
Maryellen is the Co-Founder and Director of Gracie’s Kitchen and has been since its inception in 2010. In addition to all the organization, planning, purchasing, and paperwork, she can often be found planning and cooking among the various teams in the kitchen. Through her guidance and her passion for helping feed the needy of the Yulee community, she has forged many friendships among her different volunteer groups. During the dinner hour, you can often find her serving 200 dinners with a smile after a long afternoon of cooking for those customers who have become like family to her. When asked why she is so passionate about her work, she said, “I feel I have a threefold mission as Director of Gracie’s Kitchen. That mission is to offer our guests a wholesome meal in a happy environment, to provide my teams with good leadership, and to give the community the opportunity to do good.”
Eileen is the Co-Director and has been volunteering at Gracie’s Kitchen for six years. Initially volunteering as a cook and server, she assumed the responsibility of Co-Director in 2017. Her duties include the pickup, delivery, and packing of food donations from local businesses. She keeps all the teams and their dinner statistics recorded, launders the endless kitchen and cleaning towels, and helps with various tasks that others don’t care to do. She is a huge part of various cooking teams and can be found serving or doing clean-up where needed. She has great respect for Mother Teresa and lives by her quote, “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”
Sandy Phipps has been volunteering at Gracie’s Kitchen for ? years. She manages the weekly shipments of food, picking up food from various locations (???), managing deliveries with the help of volunteers from Set Free by the Sea, cleaning, stocking, and cooking ?? nights a month. She is always willing to help a guest in need and organizes and runs multiple side projects that Gracie’s Kitchen has been able to complete/do with the help of the community, volunteers, and donations/donors. Sandy’s enthusiasm and positive attitude that all things are possible provides guests with a ???. Sandy says she enjoys volunteering at Gracie’s Kitchen because “[quote from Sandy].”