If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
Journal Star (Peoria)
PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — Bored with retirement, Ron Rasberry got off the couch and headed to the kitchen.
Not his, but the South Side Mission’s.
“I just wanted to stop being lazy,” Rasberry, 71, says with a chuckle. “That couch was killing me.”
Hoping to improve his kitchen skills, he attended the South Side Mission’s Culinary Arts Training School. Usually, the school helps younger people learn a vocation that leads to a job. But when Rasberry finished with classes, he stuck around at the mission, where he now volunteers five days a week in the soup kitchen, the Journal Star reports.
The mission is thankful for his help. The lunch crowd is thankful for his vittles. And Rasberry is thankful for the service opportunity.
Rasberry — or Ras, as he’s known by friends — grew up in South Peoria with seven siblings. With so many mouths to feed, their mother expected occasional help in the kitchen.
In 1968, he left Manual High School to join the Navy, serving in the Mediterranean Sea until 1971. He returned to Peoria and worked the production line at Caterpillar Inc. until retiring in 2002.
Rasberry has one adult son but lives alone in South Peoria. Not long after retiring, he began attending the Church of the Living God in Northwest Peoria. A few years ago, he started preparing snacks and meals for the church’s youth program.
But about four years ago, he heard about the mission’s culinary school. Each year, about 20 students graduate from the school’s 12-week programs. There is no tuition, though the mission interviews applicants, most of whom are 18 to 35 years old and looking to turn their lives around with a new career.
Rasberry had no desire to rejoin the workforce. But he figured classes would help him in whipping up food for his church kids. Chef Chris Franzoni, who runs the mission’s culinary program, was impressed with Rasberry’s goal — and even more impressed by his performance in class.