Dining A La King: The Window serves those in need in Goshen

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By: Marshall V. King
mking@flavor574.com

Elkhart Truth photo/Alex Pletcher

One of the busiest places in downtown Goshen doesn’t actually sell anything.

On most days, The Window will feed 80 to 90 people a free, hot meal. Folks will show up for doughnuts and coffee in the morning or sandwiches and salads left over from the Crystal Valley Catering trucks in the afternoons.

Altogether, more than 300 people a day walk through the doors at 223 S. Main St. for one reason or another.

The Window was established in 1967 after churches saw a need. The need remains. Churches still offer support. Ten percent of the sales from specials during Goshen Dining Days — March 5 to 12 — will go to The Window as well.

People like Vi Miller will put that money to use feeding people in Katie’s Kitchen, which has been serving meals at The Window since 1983.

She was tired of working in a medical field. “I was looking for a place to care about people, to do ministry,” she said.

So now she oversees making food for those who come weekdays and the 40 or so other people who get Meals on Wheels.

Some of the people who come for meals are homeless. Some bring kids. A lot of veterans are there.

Some of the people have social dysfunctions or can’t keep jobs. A few are lazy, she said, but the majority are dealing with something that keeps them from getting ahead. In many instances, it’s mental illness.

However they get there, Miller and others work to call them by name, show a bit of hospitality and to offer help. It’s what The Window does. No matter how strong a community is, it needs a place where those in need can go.

At The Window, there are showers and laundry. Once a week, someone can pick out clothes that have been donated. Once a month, someone can get items from the food pantry that’s been operating since 1973.

Though unemployment is low in this community, underemployment is still an issue and those folks visit The Window. “It’s a safe place. It’s a place for people to come,” said Scarlett Garrison, who oversees communications and development. “We’re a vital resource to a lot of people who are struggling in the community to make ends meet,” said Garrison.

Ronald Dove has a job and just got an apartment in Goshen. Employees and volunteers at The Window helped him get the housing and he enjoys the camaraderie. “They do this out of love, out of Christian love,” he said.

He’s gotten help from Faith Mission, from Susannah’s Kitchen in Elkhart. “To have places like this in our community, it’s a great thing,” he said, adding that when the churches pull together to do something like The Window, it makes a community stronger.

Karoline McLain was a client at The Window. She tried to save friends and family from homelessness on her own. Now she works with Miller to cook the food to feed others. “I love this place. It changed my life,” she said.

She could work in the recreational vehicle industry again. “I don’t want to,” she said.

She laughed and said she struggled to remember what they cooked yesterday, but tries to remember the names of those she feeds. “It’s like a family in here. We all know each other. We all love each other. We all look out for each other,” she said.

On Feb. 18 I stopped in and I ate the chicken breast, real mashed potatoes and gravy and cooked carrots that she’d cooked as we talked. It was easy to taste and feel the love she puts into her cooking.

People sometimes need a little boost and she’s part of giving it now. It takes a lot of people doing that in a variety of ways.

Granger Community Church and others do food drives for The Window. The last drive collected so much stuffing McLain joked “it’s coming out of our ears.”

There are pictures of J. Ed Swartley, executive director of The Window, accepting checks, real ones and the giant ones. Sometime in March, we’ll stand alongside him and present one from the donations collected during Goshen Dining Days.

The Window helps people. It’s that simple. To do that, it needs money and other donations. As McLain said, the kitchen needs a new stove and she says a prayer every morning.

Perhaps eating out during Goshen Dining Days can make it a bit easier for those feeding those in need in our community.

I’m hungry. Let’s eat.

Marshall V. King is food columnist for Flavor 574 and community editor for The Elkhart Truth. You can reach him at 574-296-5805, mking@flavor574.com, and on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
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