The Craig Rotary Club has chosen its Bill and Nancy Muldoon Humanitarian of the Year, and this year the committee selected two deserving candidates for the title.
The two winners are Pat Jones, CEO of Love INC, and Beth Newkirk, who serves at Community Kitchen in St. Louis. Michael’s Church.
Love INC, a well-established resource for Craig families in need, organizes resources such as children’s clothing, project school supplies, pantries, a household items office, a gently used furniture office, cooking classes, and budget classes. Jones is coming on her 20th birthday to serve in the role in October, saying she feels it is the purpose of her life to serve her community.
“I really feel like God has prepared me for this job,” Jones said. “I really enjoy serving. After 20 years, I feel like the whole town is my family.”
Sometimes Jones even uses his own personal finances to fill in when ministries, agencies, churches and Love INC can not cover everything anyone needs. She works overtime without pay just to serve others who need it. Ultimately, the goal is to help her neighbors become self-sufficient.
“Understanding people really helps figure out how to help them,” Jones added. “We started with a really small office at St. Michael’s and they had a small building that we moved into and that’s the building we use now. We started by just taking phone calls, but we started to see some gaps in community services and wanted to fill them. “
Jones is seeking to retire this year and hopes a successor will be able to take on the various roles and responsibilities she leads. She praised the work of her staff and volunteers for helping keep Love INC running.
“There’s not a single moment that has inspired me – it’s been a kind of snowball effect over the years,” she said. “Our volunteers are just wonderful and do really good things for the community.”
Newkirk, which has served Community Kitchen in St. Michael’s Church in Craig for 10 years, said she cried when Rotary members called and told her she had won the award. Newkirk was among the leaders in helping move a local Vietnam veteran into a new home after his current residence became uninhabitable. Now another member of the community has the housing he needs to thrive.
This is not the only time Newkirk has worked to deliver necessary goods to its neighbors.
When another veteran of the community needed a stove to cook with, Newkirk took the lead in getting them a new one. Another resident had nothing to heat food with, so she provided him with a microwave. When someone else needed winter gear, Newkirk got it for them.
“I do not do my job to be recognized. I do it for the people we serve, ”Newkirk said. “I help people because that’s what God wants me to do.”
Newkirk gave much of the credit to her team at Community Kitchen, which serves meals twice a week and serves about 150 shut-ins. She said that when she gives to the community, it never feels like work.
“We have a very good support system in Craig. It’s just a really good community,” said Newkirk. “Even though we are a little small, we have a big heart. Everyone who can visit us can see that.”