LIMA — Nearly four years ago, Terry Handshoe’s dying husband made her promise to go to the local soup kitchen to eat and meet people.
“He knew I would find what I’m looking for and it would help guide me,” she said.
After nearly a year of grieving, Handshoe made it to Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen where she found companionship and soon much more than that.
She began volunteering her time, helping in the kitchen. One day a week turned into two days and then five days. It wasn’t long before she was running the kitchen. It’s now a full-time, unpaid job she loves.
Her pay is not measured in money but in the smiles of the people she feeds daily, most of whom she knows by name.
“I get paid a different way. My husband pointed me here and said I would get the answers. I think God tries to keep me on the right track to help people,” she said.
Our Daily Bread Executive Director Stephen Jenkins nominated Handshoe for a Jefferson Award. He said Handshoe is invaluable. She not only is the lead cook but she helps plan meals and always finds a way to stretch food including making pumpkin and squash taste like sweet potato thanks to a mixture of spices.
“She’s done a lot of innovative and creative things with the food we get,” he said.
Feeding those who eat at the kitchen is critical. Some have no other source of food, while others live downtown and do not have any other way to eat, Jenkins said.
The kitchen averages 159 people daily but that number sometimes grows to 300, Jenkins said.
After serving is done each day, Handshoe and others start getting ready for the next day by preparing food.
“It takes a lot of time. The sandwiches, to do the soups, the beef and noodles, it all takes time,” she said. “When they come in, they will get a hot meal, a nutritious meal and it’s good.”
On top of a refrigerator inside Our Daily Bread is a box with Handshoe’s recipes. She’s had it for a long time. After all, someone in her shoes better love to cook, and she does. She and her husband raised four sons, and she has seven grandchildren.
“When we get together, we have big dinners,” she said.
Handshoe’s pastor, Jim Loescher of Family of Faith Church, said she’s always willing to lend a hand. She’s part of a group of church members who go to Lima’s homeless mission to help serve food once a month.
“Every day she wakes up wondering where she can help somebody. She has an amazing spirit of generosity,” Loescher said. “Her whole life is based around helping people.”
When Handshoe hangs up her apron during the week each day, her volunteering is not done. She’s also a volunteer for Northwest Ohio Response Team, helping coordinate traffic during accidents or other functions.
“If I had to sum her up in a sentence, I would say someone who works behind the scenes and does more than you would ever know,” said Bob Corson, the director of the response team.