Bosco Center feeds Selma souls

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Selma Times-Journal

Mary Ann Gayle prepares her meals with a sprinkle of love and a dash of soul. She doubles that

recipe during the holidays.

Gayle, supervisor of Edmundite Missions Bosco Center on Union Street, has been feeding Selma’s less fortunate with down home Southern cooking since 1986. Seven days a week, the Bosco Center serves a variety of dishes including turkey and dressing with gravy, sweet potato pone, and black-eyed peas.

And if one wants a second helping, the request is happily granted.

“If you can’t go to someone else’s house to eat you can come to Bosco Center for a meal … always,” Gayle said. “If you don’t have a family, come join the Bosco Center family.”

The holidays are always a special time at the Bosco Center. Gayle’s office is swamped with stacks of presents and gift bags containing basic necessities to hand out to their guests.

Yesterday the Bosco Center fed 150 to 200 people with a menu of baked ham, macaroni and cheese, seasoned green beans and iced tea. For dessert – red velvet cake, apples, oranges and assorted candies.

Her to-do list can be overwhelming, but Gayle said her work is rewarding.

“I thank God for Edmundite Mission and I love the people,” Gayle said. “When I prepare food, I do what I would do for my own family.”

Gayle strives to make her guests feel as if they’re having a home cooked meal. Since the Bosco Center receives mostly canned foods, Gayle adds special ingredients to get rid of the “canned taste.”

Gayle said roughly four to five volunteers come to the Bosco Center each year to serve Christmas dinner. She said there’s usually a shortage of volunteers throughout the year, but numbers increase during the holiday season.

“When you need them, you don’t have them,” Gayle said. “But during the holidays, they come pouring in – they’re thinking of us.”

Vivian Levins has worked at the Bosco Center for 20 years. As she prepares napkins and dinnerware for arriving guests, Levins said her time helping others has been worthwhile and fulfilling.

“It’s a community of people enjoying each other’s company,” she said. “It’s a good family to be working for.”

Gayle’s son, Christopher, has been involved with the Bosco Center since he was seven years old. Watching his mother help others throughout the years has heavily influenced him.

“We really like to help,” he said. “We’re not here to turn people away.”