Director of Lord's Diner thinks she's leaving it in good hands

Little more than a month after the Lord's Diner opened its second location in Wichita, executive director Wendy Glick is stepping down.

Glick, who has held the position for more than eight years, will leave in mid-July.

"I just feel like it was time," she said Tuesday. "I've been restless for a while. But I'm one that likes to have everything tied up in a neat package before I move on to the next project.

"I felt like the diner's in a really good place. We have opened the second location (in Planeview), the staff is solid, the volunteers and community resources and support is solid."

Glick, 52, joined the diner's staff as director of volunteers a month before it opened in 2002. When the diner's first director, Scott Dryden, stepped down, Glick was chosen from dozens of applicants.

"Certainly, back in 2003 when I stepped into the leadership role, if someone had told me we would have two Lord's Diners and we would be feeding between 600 and 800 people nightly, I don't think we would have believed them," Glick said. "That was just something that wasn't on anybody's radar screen."

Glick played a pivotal role in the diner's success, said Pete Meitzner, chairman of the diner's board.

"This is as pure of a mission statement you can have: Feed the hungry, no questions asked," Meitzner said. "Wendy's been a real part of that. She speaks to it from her heart."

"She'll be missed. She'll be difficult to replace."

When Glick speaks to organizations and groups about the diner, Meitzner said, she doesn't use notes. She doesn't need them.

"I think I'm sincere," she said, and people respond to that.

Even before she became executive director, Glick said, she believed every person has value regardless of their socioeconomic status. Working at the diner simply reinforced that belief, she said.

Support for the Lord's Diner has remained strong even in the face of one of the harshest economic climates since the Great Depression.

The diners are served by a volunteer force of nearly 7,000 — a number practically unheard of for modestly sized not-for-profit organizations, Glick said.

"There's a great deal of nourishment that goes on here," she said. "The people that we feed come for the food ... a great many of them come back because of the way in which they are treated.

"I know that the volunteers often tell me that they get more out of it than what they put in."

Glick said she felt comfortable submitting her resignation after seeing that the diner serving Planeview and south Wichita is operating smoothly now, about six weeks after it opened.

While organizers have been disappointed that only 150 to 200 people a night are coming to the second location, she said, the need is nonetheless evident.

In hindsight, Glick said, the lower-than-expected numbers were "the Holy Spirit watching out over us."

"It gave us the chance to iron out the kinks and get the new volunteers acclimated to the process — and for us to have a little rest," she said.

Nearly half of the people coming are children, and "the level of hunger down there is very great," she said.

Homeless people make up about one-third of the regular crowd at the Broadway location, she said, and often they're not all that hungry.

"Down south the plates are completely clean," she said. "The dishwashers have even commented that there's not as much to do because the dishes are so clean.

"It's just very, very different and very rewarding, because those kids are just so excited and their parents are so excited to be there as well."

Glick doesn't have a job waiting. She said she'll simply see where God takes her next.

The board will appoint an interim director while organizing and directing a search for a new director.

Glick said she's confident the diner will be in good hands.

"I say to people, 'It's not Wendy's Diner, it's the Lord's Diner,' " she said. "We see it in the faces of those who come to eat. We see it in the faces of those who come to serve. We feel it with every donation that comes in — the Lord's presence.

"That will continue on ... that's why it'll be just fine after I leave, too."

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