WACO, Texas (KWTX) Getting help as a veteran can be overwhelming with so many places to go, forms to fill out, and all that waiting.
But there’s an organization in Central Texas that makes it easier, in fact you only have to make one stop.
Throughout February we’re telling you about the Veterans One Stop in Waco showing you what the organization offers and the growing need.
With fresh ingredients, a dash of experience, and a heaping helping of love, the Kitchen Angels serve up meals every Wednesday at the Veterans One Stop in Waco.
Kitchen Angel coordinator Janice Cockrell told us, “if you make banana pudding or buttermilk pies or even chocolate or coconut [you hear], ‘boy I haven’t had this since my grandma cooked it or my mama cooked it.’ That makes you feel good. If you can cook like grandma or mama you’re doing good.”
About half a dozen volunteers get to work on breakfast and lunch each Wednesday, and there’s no basic fare here.
You’ll get good home cooking.
“I want to cook this like I was cooking for my family, because now this is my family,” Cockrell said, “pork loin, potato salad, baked beans, we’ll have all that next week so we want them to have a good meal, not just a hamburger or just a sandwich.”
But these veterans don’t just come for the food.
Veteran Charlie Molina has been coming for about a month.
“Places like this are where the Vietnam veterans get together, Marines, Air Force, Navy, Army, everybody gets together here,” he told us.
Veterans of all ages and their families get a chance to sit, catch up on the week, laugh and remember.
Jerry Guinn and Gary Urban meet up every week.
“He was at Cam Ranh Bay the same time I was there and I think you were there for three days for a promotion test right, and that was the exact same time they blew our bomb dump up and that was a really, really rough night,” Guinn said to Urban.
But Guinn and Urban didn’t know each other then.
They were actually doing meal volunteer training for the One Stop when they discovered their paths nearly crossed decades ago in Vietnam.
“Just happened to be in Waco at the same time,” Urban said.
Cockrell has coordinated the kitchen since the program began in fall of 2016.
“It’s just a way of letting them know we appreciate them and what they’ve done,” she said.
Several of her relatives served in the military.
The same is true for Naomi Mangum.
“Veterans are my my life, my dad being a veteran of World War I, my husband was a corpsman in WWII,” she said, “I do care, my husband fought the war for 50 years every night. I know what it’s like.”
So every Thursday Mangum brings her famous pimento cheese sandwiches to the One Stop.
“I think they need a bite to eat, two loaves of bread makes about 24 and I cut them in half. They can share,” she chuckled.
And veterans have come to rely on the weekly treats, like Mrs. Mangum’s sandwiches, Judy Granger’s mixed fruit cobbler, and the familiar feeling of a family meal with those who understand them best, all thanks to some angels.