Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Duke Chapel Honors Durham Community Leaders Feeding the Hungry

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Duke Chapel will honor two Durham community leaders who work to feed people in need. Drew Woten, assistant director of Open Table Ministry, and Jacquelyn Blackwell, volunteer executive director of Feed My Sheep of Durham, Inc., will receive the Chapel’s Humanitarian Service Award.

The award will be presented to Woten and Blackwell at a reception this Sunday, October 23, at 2:00 p.m. in the Alumni Memorial Commons Room in Duke Divinity School (see a video on how to navigate to the room). The event is free and open to the public.

The award comes with a $1,500 grant that will be donated to each recipient’s nonprofit organization. A committee comprising students, Duke staff, and Chapel community partners selected the two recipients for the annual award based on its goal of honoring people who demonstrate “a commitment to service and simplicity.”

“In the work and witness of Jacquelyn and Drew, we saw two examples of people who serve by meeting people where they are and recognizing their humanity,” said the Rev. Breana van Velzen, the Chapel’s community minister, who was on the selection committee. “In their ministries, providing food to people is part of a larger effort to build long-term relationships and nurture community bonds. This is an approach to community engagement that we wanted to highlight.”

At Open Table Ministry, Woten and his colleagues provide free lunches, transportation, and a “Free Store” with clothing, hygiene items, and furniture at no cost. The ministry also focuses long-term support of people living on the streets with a goal of ending homelessness by building relationships within the community. With an ongoing focus social equity through holistic community programs, Woten earned a master of social work degree from UNC-Chapel Hill and a master of divinity from Duke University.

Blackwell leads Feed My Sheep, a food pantry with a mission of offering hope, healing, and hospitality to the people they serve. She also serves as co-coordinator of End Hunger Durham, a grassroots organization that fights to end food insecurity in Durham. She is an elder at her church, Victory at Calvary Covenant Ministries, and holds degrees in sociology and elementary education from North Carolina Central University.

The Chapel’s Humanitarian Service Award was established in the 1990s by two Duke professors, C. Eric Lincoln and George R. Parkerson, Jr, to promote “caring love and concern for humanity.”