By Alexa Garrett, social media manager, and web editor
The Lord’s Diner: a place to bring the community of Wichita together and create a safe space for the less fortunate to share. At the Diner, people can feel the normality of being able to eat food in a closed space with others.
In early 2000, Bishop Eugene Gerber wanted a place where people would never go hungry. The place would be open 365 days a year, seven days a week. Gerber put together a task force to build the diner with those from different backgrounds in the community. Being a place located around many services, such as the Humankind Homeless Shelter and St. Anthony, the location at Central and Broadway in east Wichita was the first to be built.
Before the building process of the Diner, a ceremony occurred where numerous people who were involved put their shovels in the ground. Since the Diner is a non-profit organization, much volunteer money needed to be put into its building.
Volunteers from various parishes around Wichita are always asked for. One volunteer, Nelson Chamagua, described what his personal mission is at the Diner.
“I was a military person. And I have a lot of the veterans here, so my mission is basically help them out as far as food and try to give them the resources so they can go to the VA to get proper treatment that they need,” Chamagua said.
Chamagua enjoys the recovery aspect of people in need using the diner as a way to get back on their feet.
“We have a lot of stories about people who have been down due to COVID they lost a lot of their jobs,” Chamagua said. They were in bad situations so they came here to eat and have gotten back their jobs.”
Local customers have eaten at the diner for various reasons, including having a disability or needing financial help.
One regular, Jeff Paton, started utilizing the diner when his wife got diagnosed with a disability 11 years ago.
“She can’t hardly stand up to cook. Most of the time when we cook at home she has to be careful because her hands are in front of the stove and she can hurt herself,” Paton said.
The diner has been the perfect place for the couple to connect with people that have the same issue.
Sam Parisi has been going to the diner for about a year and a half now since the beginning of COVID.
“I was working and I did not have enough money and my refrigerator gave out,” Parisi said. “I usually don’t cook at home but I do when I have to.”
Weighing 275 pounds in 2021, Parisi struggled with high blood pressure but has improved this by going to the diner. He now weighs 210 pounds and says he is as healthy as he has ever been.
For Thanksgiving, the diner will serve the usual Thanksgiving fixtures such as turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, pumpkin pie, and other related dishes. Surprisingly, the diner does not get as many customers on Thanksgiving as regular days.
The Lord’s Diner has been an opportunity for the less fortunate to get the help they desperately need. If you are interested in volunteering or donating to the Lord’s Diner, you can find their contact information at www.thelordsdiner.org.