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Open Door helped them. Now they are helping others.

Gracen Guise, left, exchanges a fist-bump with Robert Parker during lunch Thursday at the United Methodist Open Door’s Homeless Resource Center. Parker is a former client who wanted to give back to the center, so he helped serve chicken dinners to current clients. (Nov. 10, 2016)
Gracen Guise, left, exchanges a fist-bump with Robert Parker during lunch Thursday at the United Methodist Open Door’s Homeless Resource Center. Parker is a former client who wanted to give back to the center, so he helped serve chicken dinners to current clients. (Nov. 10, 2016) The Wichita Eagle

It was plates of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy offered as a sincere way to say thank you.

Some former clients of the Homeless Resource Center volunteered Thursday to serve the homeless at the United Methodist Open Door.

The former clients – some of whom are current and former Stroud’s employees – served nearly 150 Stroud’s meals.

Robert Parker said it was a way to give thanks. For three years, the shelter helped him. Now, he’s a truck driver.

“I wanted to do what they did for me – I can give back with my time,” he said. “For everything they did for me, this is the least I can do. I don’t have money to give to them.”

Deeann Smith, the executive director at Open Door Inc., said that “Too often we talk about the homeless and the problems they cause, but these are folks who want to give back and say thank you for the service they got here.”

In a letter to The Eagle, Smith said the former clients also “see it as a way to encourage others who are still homeless to make positive steps toward stabilization.”

One of the recipients of the meals, Gracen Guice, said it was good seeing his old friends, and “the meal was nice. Good.”

Ernest Robinson said, “It was something we felt in our hearts. We wanted an opportunity. It wasn’t one person doing this; it took a team.”

Beccy Tanner: 316-268-6336, @beccytanner

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