Meet Emily Ingram
Emmaus volunteer, Emily Ingram

Emily is a longtime donor to Emmaus Ministries but more recently also become a regular volunteer at the Soup Kitchen, serving with a group of friends on the first Tuesday of each month. The interview is conducted by Emmaus staff member, Breanna Mekuly.

Breanna: Sister Mary told me that you first became involved in Emmaus Ministries when you and your good friend Kelley Glass raised $20,000 to start up the Kids Cafe. How did this fundraising come about?

Emily: The fundraising was enjoyable. We threw a big party at the Kids Cafe, invited corporate sponsors, and asked all of our friends to come. It was Kelley’s idea. She asked me to help.

Breanna: Why did you say yes?

Emily: Well, two reasons. One, Kelley is salt-of-the-earth good people—like Sister Mary—and you don’t say no to these kinds of people when they ask for something meaningful. Neither do you want to say no to them!

Breanna: And the other reason?

Emily: At the time, Kelley and I both had young children at home. Our own kids, they didn’t want for much, which was a very nice situation to be in. But we knew there were children in our city that needed help, with homework, after school care, and mostly, that were hungry. We wanted to do something about that.

Breanna: That was back in the early 2000’s. When did you begin volunteering at the Soup Kitchen?

Emily: I was a substitute volunteer for a while. Many of my friends served at the kitchen and would call me in if they needed an extra person. Then in June of 2016, I was given a regular day to volunteer—the first Tuesday of every month—and was so happy about that.

Breanna: What is most difficult about having a regular day to volunteer?

Emily: It’s a commitment. But our Tuesday group—none of our volunteers ever want to miss a day. We always want to be there. We reschedule our events to go to the kitchen. Plus, I volunteer with a great group of women—I enjoy spending time with them all.

Breanna: Do you all have regular roles at the Soup Kitchen?

Emily: The women in my group try to rotate so no one has to do the dishes every time!

Breanna: That’s a good idea! Tell me a little more about your experiences at the kitchen. Is there anything from working there that sticks with you?

Emily: I’m happy with how truly appreciative the guests at Emmaus are—not that I didn’t think they would be, but I’ve been surprised by how often they vocalize their gratefulness. I think a lot of this is orchestrated by Sister Mary.

Breanna: Can you say more about that?

Emily: Sister Mary and the other sisters create an environment at the Soup Kitchen where people feel comfortable and safe. I think people might sometimes be embarrassed to come to a soup kitchen for a meal, but when they’re here, there’s a level of comfort that brings out a sense of community.

Breanna: Tell me a little about yourself and your interests. What do you do when you’re not at the kitchen?

Emily: I do some other volunteer work at the Barber Center. And lately I’ve been taking care of my mother, who is in an assisted living facility. I also have two grown children who live in Chicago. I like to travel and I’m hoping to do some more traveling soon.

Breanna: Thank you so much for sharing about yourself and for all the work you do with Emmaus.