Helen Ashe and Ellen Turner
Each Wednesday at The Love Kitchen in Knoxville, Tennessee, a large group of volunteers unite to prepare and serve breakfasts for the homeless and the poor.
These volunteers also prepare and distribute emergency food bags.
Each Thursday, volunteers prepare and serve lunch and fan out across Knoxville to deliver meals to the disabled, the elderly and others who are homebound.
In all over 3,000 meals are served each week, 80% of those meals served to the homebound.
For nearly 30 years, this incredible interracial charity has lovingly served the public. Yet it all began so modestly on Valentine's Day, 1986 when twin sisters Helen Ashe and Ellen Turner served a meal to 22 needy souls in a small Knoxville church.
Here is their remarkable story:
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Helen and Ellen were born in Abbeville, South Carolina in 1928 to sharecropper parents, who lived in a modest shack with no indoor plumbing or running water, and everyone worked to put food on the table.
After their high school graduation in 1946, the sisters moved to Knoxville, supporting themselves as dishwashers. They used the money they saved to open The Coffee Cup, a tiny restaurant, and later a second restaurant, The Hickory Grill.
Meanwhile, they earned their nursing credentials at Knoxville College and after graduation went to work at the University of Tennessee Hospital.
In those dark days of segregation, the twins were assigned to African Americans. Helen worked with patients who couldn't pay on one floor and Ellen on another with patients who could pay.
Over the years the sisters saw many people who had no money for food or transportation or any other help, and they vowed to one day do something about it.
After the sisters retired, they served those 22 hungry souls and The Love Kitchen had begun.
Their motto became "Everybody is God's Somebody," and funded by their supporters, they and now many volunteers, serve those in need.