EASLEY — Ask the S.H.I.N.E. Soup Kitchen’s new director what she wants for Christmas and she will say, a deep fryer and more people to serve.”
Gretta Boykin has been on the job for about three weeks and says she has found a niche where she is appreciated and satisfied.
She is the kitchen’s first full-time administrator and leads a group of at least four kitchen staffers on a daily basis. Together they put together meals based on what they have available.
She was busy thawing chickens to bake last Friday. “I’ve got some potatoes I need to move,” she said.
A little later she asked a volunteer named Smiley to check the stock of baked beans in the pantry.
She joked easily with Smiley at one point calling him Steve. “I better not call you Steve. There are three other Steves around here. We better stick with Smiley.”
In a few minutes, he returned with a selection of canned bean varieties. She easily discussed with him the specific kind and asked for 20 cans of baked beans. He responded pleasantly.
They would be expecting 70 people on that Friday night at the Dream Center located in what was once the Simpson Academy alternative school on the north side of downtown Easley.
That number has grown to be a typical turnout for the Monday through Friday evening meals served to anyone who can’t find a meal otherwise.
Relating with people is a big part of Boykin’s purpose.
Her personality and enormous smile were among the reason’s S.H.I.N.E. found her so appealing, said Executive Director Judy Burns. They were also taken by Boykin’s associates degree in culinary arts. “She knows the nutrition and planning and running a kitchen,” Burns said.
Boykin appreciates her reception in Easley. “The night David (Crow, of the S.H.I.N.E. Board) introduced me, they applauded. That made me feel good,” Boykin said.
“There are a lot of ingredients that go into what I cook, but love is the major ingredient.”
Dealing with the people she serves is a daily activity.
“I try to be involved out here,” Boykin said referring to the dinning room. “I pour tea and talk to them and make sure each person gets what they need. Everybody deserves a good meal despite their race, age or gender or their problems of the past.”
So far she is pleased with what she sees at S.H.I.N.E..
“Everybody works together in the name of God. It is a privilege. I am privileged to be a part of this.”
She is looking for more.
S.H.I.N.E. Has made recent improvements to the kitchen and is adding a new pantry closer to the kitchen. Scouts were helping with painting the pantry and board members were looking for shelving.
Next on Boykin’s list was a deep fryer. “Then I could serve fried chicken,” she said “And more people in here. I want more people in here to feed.”