By Laura McAlister
Just because Ziven Fowler isn’t old enough to volunteer for Grace’s Kitchen doesn’t mean he can’t help the program that feeds Birmingham’s homeless.
For the second year in a row, Ziven, a sixth grader at Simmons Middle School, will host the Race For Grace, set for Oct. 21 at The Preserve in Hoover. There is no set registration fee for the race. All that is asked is a donation to Grace’s Kitchen.
“We just want people to give what they want,” Ziven said. “All of it will go to Grace’s Kitchen. I started this when I was 11. I want to make it an annual event, and I want it to grow every year.”
The race is in its second year and is growing. Last year, there was only a 1-mile fun run, but this year it has expanded to include a 5K race route.
Birmingham residents Paula Hughes and Lisa Latham founded Grace’s Kitchen as a way to serve the area’s homeless.
Since 2009, the ministry has been serving a warm breakfast and sack lunch each Thursday in downtown Birmingham’s Linn Park. In addition to the meals, a short worship service is held.
Anna Fowler, Ziven’s mom and a Grace’s Kitchen board member, said on any given Thursday anywhere from 75-125 homeless residents are nourished through the ministry.
She and husband Rob were pleasantly surprised when Ziven said he wanted his race to benefit Grace’s Kitchen. She said the couple has encouraged Ziven and his sister Sasha to get involved with the community.
“Our feelings have always been that the more involved you are with the community you live and work in, the more you will take care of it,” she said.
Although Grace’s Kitchen requires volunteers serving meals to be at least 13, that doesn’t mean Ziven and 8-year-old Sasha haven’t had some involvement with the ministry.
Ziven said they often write Bible verses and messages on index cards that are packed in paper sacks along with nutritious snacks and bottled water. Instead of handing out cash to homeless people, Anna said the family gives them sacks of snacks with uplifting messages.
“It only takes a few seconds, but it’s great,” she said. “We keep them in the car and give them out. Not once have we had anyone say ‘no thank you.’ They are always very appreciative.”
The Race for Grace will be Oct. 21 at The Preserve Town Hall. The fun run begins at 2 p.m., and the 5K starts at 2:30 p.m.
Visit active.com and search “Race for Grace” to register and make a donation to Grace’s Kitchen.