Good Soldier: Salvation Army volunteer helps hungry mouths

Published on Wednesday, 4 December 2013 22:13 - Written by By Faith Harper fharper@tylerpaper.com

A woman affectionately known as “momma” has a kind word and a warm smile for everyone she meets.

Betty Flowers, 74, see hundreds of people a day at her post volunteering for The Salvation Army kitchen, where she has been serving meals for the past five years.

Momma said the volunteer work keeps her young.

“It keeps me from having to twiddle my thumbs,” she said. “I like to be busy. That makes you older than what you are when you just sit. I don’t like that I don like to sit.”

She’s a “pretty good” cook but doesn’t work preparing the meals because the serving pans are too heavy. Momma serves the meals, helps clean up and meet and greets with the people passing through.

“I do everything but I don’t cook,” she said.

Chantel Millin, community and corporate relations coordinator for The Salvation Army, said Momma is the “rock of the kitchen” and she is as faithful to organization as a paid worker. She lets the organization know if she’s going to be out or late.

More importantly, she is an inspirational figure who often prays with people over their food and lives.

“Every time you see her it’s the same smile, the same hug — no matter what is going on in the world or in her life,” Ms. Millis said.

Momma said she has several nieces and nephews but never physically had any children of her own.

“If I had children I probably couldn’t be doing what I’m doing — God can see,” Momma said. “So it’s better that I don’t have children myself … (and I can help) the people out here.”

She’s always has an ear to lend and an uplifting word.

“They encourage me, and I encourage them,” she said. “A lot of folks need encouraging — you’d be surprised.

Ivory Brinkley, of Dallas, said he has been eating lunch at the kitchen for about two years, and seeing Momma is a welcomed part of his day.

“She’s a wonderful person,” he said. “She always stays the same. She never changes. She keeps the same smile, the same attitude, same personality — she’s just her and she’ll help you with anything if she can.”

Momma said she wasn’t always such a happy and spiritual person. She said at one time she was an alcoholic and a cigarette smoker.

“The Lord picked me up… “ she said. “The Lord delivered me 41 years ago, so I’m grateful. I wouldn’t go back to that stuff for nothing …. I said, ‘Lord I thank you.’ He done all of that for me I can get out here and help and volunteer because he was good to me.”

She’s not ashamed of her history, and feels like her story can help others get through addictions or other problems.

“I tell people all the time about how the Lord delivered me,” she said. “I say, ‘y’all don’t have to do it. This stuff is bad for your head ... leave it alone.’ They say, ‘momma I’m trying to quit.’ I say, ‘your not trying hard enough.’”

Momma’s faith helped her stop drinking and smoking.

“I’m just so thankful for what God did for me because I know I was in terrible shape when I came to the Lord ...” she said. “Since the Lord brought me out, I can help somebody else come out you. I went through so many things, and I’ll tell you I know I was horrible.”

Momma landed at The Salvation Army after she was divorced and needed to live in the shelter for two months before she got back on her feet. She said while staying there she started helping in the kitchen and kept coming back.

Now she’s living in her own home and has a car. She’s retired, but sees working lunch and dinner at The Salvation Army as her calling from God.

“When God places you somewhere, you see the results — you see you’re doing some good.”

Momma said she’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

“This is my job, doing what I can do to make things better and happier,” she said. “It’s my job to let people know (about the Lord).”