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Wednesdays with Nellie: Paying it forward to a free lunch program in Nampa

Tim Toy with Mountain America Credit Union presents a $500 Pay It Forward to Nellie Labrum.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019 was a special day for Nellie Labrum and her volunteers at the First Christian Church of Nampa.

It was the 8th anniversary of their “Marginalia” program (meaning those who are on the margins of society) where they offer a free, community lunch each Wednesday.

For their anniversary, they had cake, balloons and a surprise from Mountain America Credit Union. Tim Toy presented Nellie with a $500 Pay It Forward. “It’s a big ‘thank you’ for everything you're doing in our community,” Tim said.

As part of the anniversary celebration, the kitchen was run by “guest chefs” from Stonehill Christian Church. Jennie Stewart told us, “it’s to give the regular volunteers a day off because they work diligently week after week after week."

Nellie said, "Our help is awesome. They never miss a Wednesday. Never. We've got retired school teachers, a coach, Heidi has been an interpreter for another country, and we all come together."

The Wednesday lunch is always free. Anyone is invited. They usually feed about 80 people.

Many of their guests are elderly and living on limited income. A few live on the streets. All are grateful for a good meal in a warm place.

And each Wednesday for the last eight years, Nellie has been here to make sure the lunch goes off without a hitch.

"Next month, I'm 75 years old,” Nellie explained. “And I just ask God every morning, 'melt me, mold me and use me.' And he sure does!”

Steve Perotti is the pastor of First Christian and called Nellie to lead Marginalia. “She’s a beautiful, feisty spirit. She is our resident Mother Teresa. She believes in what she's doing. She doesn't push her beliefs on anyone. She just shares her love."

Nellie added, "There's a drive inside of me to touch the ‘down and out.’ And where it comes from, I don't know. I wasn't raised on the streets. I was raised in Kuna with some awesome family. But there's a drive inside of me that God has given me to touch the down and out."

Nellie will tell you she's just one of the volunteers, but everyone else says she's the heart of it all.

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