Good News at Noon Director Alejandro Oropeza acknowledged a larger lunch crowd than usual in the dining hall earlier this week.
The faith-based ministry founded in 1987 by Hall County teacher Gene Beckstein and his wife Margie, is known well beyond Gainesville for its work feeding the hungry and providing shelter for the homeless.
Oropeza’s wife, Beth, graciously greets and welcomes everyone who walks through the doors of Good News at Noon looking for a hot meal.
For the past six years, Fletcher Law — a social studies teacher at Wilbanks Middle School in Habersham County — has been the pastor at Good News at Noon.
Good News at Noon 30th anniversary volunteer dinner
When: 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: First Baptist Church, fellowship hall, 751 Green St., Gainesville
As a student at Gainesville High School, Law knew of Beckstein, who was on the faculty of GHS back in the day. He never thought he would one day be a teacher himself and follow the missions tradition started by Beckstein.
Law said volunteers are the backbone of everything that’s done through Good News at Noon.
“I think that’s why we believe the Lord is with the ministry because he’s brought so many different types of people and different types of Christians and Christian churches together,” Law said. “It is volunteer-driven all the way.”
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Good News at Noon, Law said the group’s board of directors and Beth Oropeza have organized an appreciation dinner for volunteers. The event takes place Thursday from 6-7:30 p.m. in the fellowship hall at First Baptist Church at 751 Green St. in Gainesville.
“Lift Jesus up in everything you do, and never criticize another ministry,” Law said, remembering Beckstein’s words.
As he does from time to time, former Good News at Noon pastor Ed Grant dropped in to offer a prayer before the meal and deliver a short message of hope for the two dozen or so men and women who came in to get a plate Monday.
Although everyone’s eyes appeared to be focused on the meal in front of them, and chatter filled the room, that didn’t stop Grant from delivering his message about getting through life’s storms.
“The values you learn come from adversity,” Grant said, after sharing with strangers how he lost his trucking business when the economy tanked in 2007, and how he and his wife Marie lost almost all their savings trying to keep the business afloat.
“When you’re in the storm, don’t spend your energy trying to get out of the storm,” Grant said to his hungry audience. “Learn the lessons God is trying to show you in the storm.”
Ed and Marie Grant began volunteering at Good News At Noon in 1999. They would help prepare food and do their part just as scores of volunteers have done from different churches and denominations over the years.
Grant said the ministry and mission of Good News at Noon of feeding the hungry and helping the poor has attracted missionaries from Salt Lake City, Utah; Liberty University University in Lynchburg, Va.; and students from as far away as Africa to see what Gene and Margie Beckstein started 30 years ago.
“The ministry here has been a blessing for this community,” Grant said.