Nicole Hood is a volunteer manager for Meals of Hope. She also donates her time to St. Matthew’s House. In the past she wondered if providing free groceries was not “teaching people to fish.” Was it giving them fish? Was this what she should be doing? When she discussed her conflicted feelings with a pastor at St. Matthew’s, he told her that “It’s not your place to judge. God will sort it out.”


About a year ago an employee at Meals of Hope had a death in her family, and Nicole offered to help her by assuming some of the employee’s responsibilities. The employee asked her to manage the Wednesday Meals of Hope operation at Emmanuel Community Park. The first time she came to the park Nicole “absolutely loved it.” She didn’t realize immediately that the park was church-affiliated, but she knew she liked all the volunteers. One day she happened to see the sign for drive-in church at the entrance to the park; she asked some questions and was interested. The next Sunday she and her husband came to church at the park, and despite knowing almost no one, they felt connected immediately. They had not previously belonged to a church although Nicole had always been a believer. Nicole says that EPC is different; it isn’t a place where you “need to dress the right way. Jesus says to come as you are.” Today, Nicole, her husband, her daughter, and her daughter’s boyfriend are all regular participants at the services at the park. Nicole helps with hospitality and her husband helps with directing car traffic and parking. “We feel blessed to be a part of it (the Emmanuel Park community).”

“It’s not your place to judge. God will sort it out.”

Nicole sees her participation in worship at EPC and her volunteer assistance with Meals of Hope as doing what God wants her to do. When she thinks about how she came to Emmanuel, that she originally connected with the Emmanuel Park Community only because of the tragic death in her colleague’s family, she reflects back to the lesson she learned years ago. God sorted it out.

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