Monday Q&A: Volunteer inspired to help others at Modesto Gospel Mission

rahumada@modbee.comDecember 22, 2013 

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Modesto Gospel Mission volunteer Terry Fredriks checks in pastry donations Friday. He’s been a volunteer at the mission for more than three years.

ANDY ALFARO — aalfaro@modbee.com Buy Photo

  • AT A GLANCE

    What: “Happy Birthday, Jesus” party

    When: Noon today

    Where: Modesto Gospel Mission, 1400 Yosemite Blvd.

    More information: (209) 529-8259 or www.homelessmission.org

— Terry Fredriks will be among dozens of volunteers serving needy families and homeless people a holiday meal and handing out Christmas gifts to children as part of the Modesto Gospel Mission’s annual “Happy Birthday, Jesus” party, which is today at noon.

He said he would rather spend his free time helping others over the holidays than sit at home feeling dejected over his own troubles.

“It’s all a blessing,” said Fredriks, who has volunteered in the Modesto Gospel Mission kitchen for four years. “Whatever you do for the Lord, it comes back to you five or six times greater.”

Fredriks, 56, of Modesto has been a recovering drug addict for more than 20 years. He says he has suffered three heart attacks and four strokes that prevent him from maintaining a job in construction.

But he recognizes there might be some people who have it worse, so he tries to help them in any way he can. He’s a ministry leader for Celebrate Recovery and a deacon at The Way Christian Fellowship, both in Salida.

The Bee asked Fredriks about his volunteer work at the Modesto Gospel Mission, preparing food for homeless people staying overnight in the shelter, adults looking for work or heading to school, and children in an after-school program.

Q: Why do you volunteer at the Modesto Gospel Mission?

A: I’m in recovery myself. These are my people. I do whatever I can to help them. I’m told that 15 to 20 percent of the kids in the after-school program, that’s their only meal for the day. It’s sad.

Q: What is your favorite food to serve?

A: Carlos (the head cook) makes a mean enchilada. He individually rolls them. When I first started here, I thought this was a soup kitchen; it’s not. We get a lot of steaks that were donated. I probably had more steak here than I had at home.”

Q: Which holiday do you prefer volunteering at the Modesto Gospel Mission?

A: All of them. You see people come in, and there’s definitely a need. On Thanksgiving, they get a coat. For Christmas, the children know they’ll get at least one gift this year.

Q: What should the public know about the people who come in for a meal?

A: It’s people who have made bad decisions. But at the same time, they made a good decision by coming in here. I’ve seen people come in through the chapel and change their lives.

Q: What’s it like volunteering at the Modesto Gospel Mission during its annual “Happy Birthday, Jesus” event, where a few thousand people attend each year?

A: Organized chaos. Everybody is working hard to keep the line moving. There’s about 20 to 30 people working in the kitchen. There are others who clear the tables as people finish their meals.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or (209) 578-2394. Follow him on Twitter @ModBeeCourts.

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