Henderson eases plight of need with a warm meal

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Margaret Henderson (right) hands out free dinners to those in need on New Years Day during her "We Love You" Ministry Outreach, Monday.


By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Some people use New Year's Day for beginnings. For others, though, it's a day to remain steadfast in their good works.

Margaret Henderson is case in point, as she opened her home once more to offer free meals to Elizabeth City's poor and homeless residents.

“I've been doing this for umpteen years,” said Henderson, 76, as she prepared to-go meals in her small home on Southern Avenue. A retired social worker from New York, she said she's offered monthly meals through her “We Love You” Ministry Outreach for many years, and more recently started offering New Year's Day meals as well. She said she prepares the meals at her own expense, sometimes with help from her daughter. Just minutes into opening up her home on Monday, she had served about a dozen people, who came in bundled against the cold to get to-go trays of ham and many fixings.

Henderson said she serves in part because “the Lord spoke to me,” and it continues to sadden her how many people in Elizabeth City are struggling to get by. She cited mothers working two or three jobs to support their kids, people living in abandoned houses, or people who don't even both seeking social services because they don't feel they'll do any good. It costs too much to live in Elizabeth City if all one can get is minimum wage work, she said.

Among the beneficiaries of Henderson’s outreach were Joe Overton and Mary Joyner, who bicycled over to Henderson's home for warm meals. Though neither described themselves as homeless, they said times are still hard. Joyner noted she's disabled and can't work.

They also said they knew of numerous homeless people, including people in abandoned houses or sleeping in cars.

Clifton Perry said he wasn't homeless, but was picking up meals Monday for himself and his wife. Like others, he said it costs too much to live in Elizabeth City. Utility bills remain way too high in particular, he said.

Notably, city officials say the city's utility rates have gone down, becoming competitive with other nearby utilities' rates, but many people live in poorly insulated or otherwise energy inefficient houses.

Henderson also said she'll continue hosting her regular meals on the third Saturday of the month.