Heartland Recovery Resource Center, formerly Mothers Against Methamphetamine (MAMa), will host its first free community dinner this month in hopes of finding common ground through food and fellowship.
Mary McKinney, Heartland’s women’s peer specialist and dinner organizer, spoke candidly about what she is planning to accomplish.
“My goal is to bridge the gap,” she said. “Because, being an addict myself, the only time I’ve been in the newspaper was for a DWI charge. So, we are trying to bridge the gap between addicts, law enforcement, and your basic discriminatory labels of race and religion.
“I’m trying to bridge the gap by bringing everybody together with no uniforms (and) no titles,” she added. “So we can all sit down and for food, fun and fellowship. That’s my goal.”
She is estimating between 100 to 200 people will attend the dinner titled “Giving of Thanks,” and she’s pleased with the response in donations.
“We’ve gotten donations, all local, from all around Sedalia,” McKinney said.
The event is free and it is a “come-one-come-all” dinner, she said.
McKinney has had positive feedback from the Sedalia Police Department, Pettis County Sheriff’s Office and the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Members from each department plan to attend the dinner, she added.
“The police are getting a bad rap; addicts get a bad rap,” she said. “People just don’t understand that. There’s a job we’re supposed to do and then as for addicts, it’s a disease. We have a disease.”
McKinney, who has been working on the dinner project for two months, is still accepting donations of food for the dinner and also volunteers to help serve.
“We’re at two turkeys and waiting on 18,” she said. “I have a couple gift certificates from Woods (Supermarket) and Bings West for turkeys.”
Tyson Foods Inc. has donated 200 Cornish game hens; mashed potatoes, gravy and dressing have been donated by Country Kitchen, Bings West has donated desserts and Dale Malone, owner of Dukes and Boots, has donated large cans of vegetables.
“I think that what we’re really running low on is desserts,” she added. “Because they are expensive to make. We need bread, my connection fell through on the bread side.
“Monetary donations are cliche for this event,” McKinney added. “We don’t want people to think that’s what we are doing it for. We are doing this to show who we are, what we do, and that there is hope.”
McKinney, who teaches recovery classes for women at Heartland, said she spent time in prison due to alcohol addiction. Once she was out of prison, to overcome her addiction she took recovery classes at Pathways Community Health.
“We have classes targeting men and targeting women,” McKinney said of Heartland. “Johnnie Williams, he teaches the men’s side of constructive recovery and life skills and I teach the women’s side.”
McKinney added that she plans to make the Giving of Thanks dinner an annual event for the community.
Heartland Recovery Resource Center’s Giving of Thanks free community dinner will be hosted from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21 at the Salvation Army Corps Community Center, 1200 E. Broadway Blvd. Those wishing to donate food items or volunteer for the dinner may call McKinney at 223-6095 or visit Heartland Recovery Resource Center at 515 S. Kentucky Ave.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.