By Ukee Washington

By Ukee Washington

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A group of Main Line volunteers is feeding the stomachs and souls of people struggling to overcome long-term homelessness. The Bethesda Project provides a home for people who otherwise would have nowhere to turn. Volunteer cooks make sure those people get a family meal.

The kitchen of Karen Leimkuhler buzzes with activity and laughs. These women and many more get together every month to cook meals for the Bethesda Project shelters.

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“Bethesda Project is a home for formerly homeless people. We provide homes for people who have none,” said Karen.

Fourteen Bethesda Project facilities serve more than 2,500 people a year, mostly adults without children. Many have mental illness or addiction.

“There’s a lot of programs for women and children. There are not that many for men,” said Yarissa Reyes of Bethesda Project. “So we are serving those chronically homeless individuals that have nowhere to turn.”

To help, the Bethesda Cooks whip up wholesome meals for residents. This day’s menu was ham with a maple glaze, mint peas, stuffing, angel food cake with icing. Karen and her husband pay for all this food themselves.

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Once it’s done, the food is packed up to be transported to a freezer nearby for later delivery to one of the Bethesda Project facilities.

Mary Ann Flynn not only volunteered to help cook, she and the other cooks often join the residents for dinner.

“They love it when you take an interest and you sit down and you ask the men and women how they are,” Mary Ann said.

Over the year, Karen contributes about 7,000 meals. That helps Bethesda stretch the dollars it already gets from government grants and contributions.

“They provide so many meals each and every year, and without them, we would be in a lot of trouble,” said Yarissa.

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Ninety percent of Bethesda Project’s budget goes to programs helping their clients. Their biggest need is money.
If you would like to donate, reach them at

Ukee Washington