Norfolk, Va. – At Park Place Methodist Church in Norfolk, some call him Mr. John, others know him as Big John.
We’re talking about John Schroeder, who at 6’4 has a big heart to match his big size.
He oversees the soup kitchen. When we surprised him, I let him know it was another volunteer, Jennifer Ungar, who sent us an email about him. I had her read a portion of that email.
“I would like to acknowledge all his efforts and hard work this man does.”
The Delta Airlines retiree is the church custodian. But overseeing the church’s soup kitchen is strictly volunteer work, but it’s more like a full-time job which includes about five days out of the week driving to grocery stores like Farm Fresh and picks up donated food.
It’s not just rounding up food, sometimes he helps with the cooking and when John looks out across the dining area, there is no judgment. But what does he see?
“People that need help; people that are working for minimum wage and not making ends meet,” he says.
Jennifer Ungard points out, “Sometimes we have a couple of shut-ins; he’ll take foodboxes over because they woudn’t have any food without it and he does that. He uses his own gas.”
He’s been doing this for ten years. And because of that we gave Mr. John a NewsChannel 3 People Taking Action Award. He also received a $100 Visa gift card from our community partner Southern Bank.
Of course, John says he will use it on the soup kitchen.