When COVID-19 started and people began sheltering at home, it affected Home of Hope in several different ways – including leaving them short-staffed in the kitchen. Executive Director Maureen Kornowa wasn’t sure how she and the remaining team members were going to handle everything AND the kitchen. But then caterer Julie Belfield stepped in.
“Julie has been a Godsend to us during COVID-19. We were down kitchen staff and she stepped up in a big way by providing meals Monday through Wednesday for the last two months! Julie has a servant’s heart and we appreciate all she does for us here at Home of Hope,” said Maureen Kornowa.
Julie and Maureen had been acquaintances for about 25 years – they used to live in the same neighborhood – but had lost touch. Then Julie, who owns the catering company Moveable Feast, catered an event for a civic group that met at Home of Hope in February. That’s when she and Maureen reconnected.
After learning about Julie’s passion for serving through catering, Maureen asked Julie if she’d be willing to provide a meal once a week for the moms and kids at Home of Hope. Julie said that she’d be happy to do even more.
Since the quarantine began, Julie has been feeding Home of Hope’s guests every Monday through Wednesday.
“COVID-19 has had an impact on my business because my catering gigs have been canceled, but I’m thrilled that I’m able to use my skills for such a good cause,” Julie said.
“My small business, Moveable Feast, provides Personal Chef services and catering. I’ve served in various ways through my church, Epiphany Lutheran, in the past, but currently, I make meals for my church to provide food for another program, and now my husband is cooking at our church for me!”
Julie’s specialties – which she loves to prepare because of the joy it brings others – are chicken pot pie and meatloaf with mashed potatoes.
“When the food is good, people tend to linger around the table and visit with one another. Bringing a little piece of normalcy to the women’s and children’s lives – that’s why I serve,” she said. “I grew up fellowshipping around the table and raised my kids that way, and I want the same for the kids at Home of Hope.”
“I actually got into catering by accident,” Julie laughed. “I used to work as an archivist and planned to take a year off from work while my kids were in school. Then I was called into catering, and I’ve been running my business since 2007.”
While she loves to cook, Julie sees what she does as more than simply preparing meals.
“Many years ago, I worked for a battered women’s shelter, so I have a real heart for women. Often, those struggling with homelessness don’t have the opportunity to eat well, but I think it’s so important for families to meet around the table,” she said. “To have a decent meal is a plus, and I’m happy to be able to help moms and children connect in that way.”
Julie and her husband have been married for almost 37 years and have two children and a grandchild on the way.
“We are very involved in our church Epiphany Lutheran, and through it my kids and husband have been to Haiti. Hopefully, we’ll have the chance to serve in Guatemala soon, as my church is focusing on ministry there,” she said.
“My church has also generously allowed us their space to prep meals for Home of Hope, and they’re involved with the North Gwinnett Co-op as well.”
This world is always in need of helpers, and Home of Hope has been so fortunate to experience Julie’s selfless service during this season.
“People should know that Home of Hope is a really effective program and a really wonderful home,” she said. “It’s more than a place to stay and have a meal – they are providing coaching, programs, and help with the kids. There’s a lot going on, and it’s multidimensional. Graduating these women and children into an everyday kind of life – that’s the goal.
“I hope people will look around and find good things that are happening. There is a lot of turmoil, but Hope of Home is one of the positives in this time.”