By D’Ann Dreiling
The dictionary definition of the word “uplift” is “something that makes a person feel more cheerful, positive or optimistic.”
Uplift Organization Inc. epitomizes that meaning. Their sole mission is to care for the needs of the homeless in the Kansas City area.
Made up of 383 volunteers, this organization has no religious affiliation and depends solely on the generosity of individuals, corporations and church groups. All donated money and goods go directly to their cause. There is no paid staff.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday four vans are loaded with enough hot meals to serve 400 homeless people. These vans not only carry food, but clothing, sleeping bags, personal items, and with the help of Angel Hearts Rescue, pet food and veterinary supplies for pets. Each van makes 16 routine stops at parks, under bridges, campsites and other gathering places.
Julie Ungashick manages the food on the third Wednesday of every month. “I’ve been volunteering for this group for almost 20 years,” says Ungashick, “and am heartened by the gratefulness of the people we serve.” She emails a recipe each month to over 60 men and women who do the cooking. “I choose recipes that are nutritious as well as delicious, and if our Wednesday falls close to any holiday or calendar event, I like to choose a recipe that might be reminiscent of better days.”
The cooks deliver the food on the designated day to More Hall at St. Thomas More Church, 118th and Holmes. Ungashick and other volunteers combine the food into larger containers and transport these to the Uplift warehouse at 1516 Prospect. At this location the food is heated in large convection ovens, placed in insulated containers and loaded into the vans. “I am always inspired by the joyful spirit of the volunteers”, says Ungashick. “Each one is hoping to make a difference in the life of a homeless person.”
Besides cooks, volunteers are needed as drivers, servers and warehouse help. Volunteers also are available to give presentations to businesses, churches and scouting troops. Students’ service hours can be verified. For more information go to uplift.org.
Ungashick family members are the taste testers for their mom’s recipes for the homeless, and both groups agree this recipe is one of their favorites.
Here’s the dish…
Julie’s Chicken and Rice Bake
2 cups water
2 cups instant white rice
12 oz. cooked chicken, chopped
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 pkg. dry ranch dressing mix
8 oz. sour cream
8 oz. cheddar cheese
16 oz. frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
Preheat oven to 350*
In medium saucepan, bring water to boil. Add instant rice, cover and remove from heat. Allow to stand 5 minutes or until water is absorbed.
In large bowl, combine chicken, soup, ranch mix, sour cream, thawed broccoli and cooked rice. Mix thoroughly and spread into a greased 9×13-inch casserole dish. Top with cheddar cheese.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until thoroughly heated.