There is no little controversy about growth in North Idaho and the impact of all the newcomers, yet we sometimes overlook the value and positive impact of the transplants to our communities. One of these is an amazing lady by the name of Amy Privitt who moved here with her husband and two sons about four years ago from Texas.
After a year in Hayden, where Amy taught at Hayden Meadows, they settled in Spirit Lake where, as Amy said, “I felt that I was called here to minister and be a witness.” My wife and I had an enjoyable morning over coffee getting the entire story.
Amy, you started with a calling to start community dinners and “feed people” can you tell us more about that?
Shortly after we moved to Spirit Lake, I got a job at a new coffee shop, which was wonderful. I met so many people and it helped me put down roots. It may sound strange but feeding people was clearly how I felt called, and I began searching for a place where we could begin.
After a few attempts, the City Council graciously allowed us to have a free dinner on Tuesdays at the Spirit Lake Community Center. We started the first Tuesday of January 2017. It quickly grew from 23 meals to the point where we serve anywhere from 80 to 100 meals each week. We served 3,643 dinners in 2018. Although we make available “blessing bags” of personal care items, Bibles and gospel items, our main purpose is to meet people and be a blessing with a meal.
Who assists you in this venture?
I attended a Bible study and ladies there helped with funds and serving. We also have people from many churches, and some that aren’t involved in a church. This is not a church-sponsored program. It quickly has become large enough that we formed a 501(c)(3) nonprofit called Cup of Grace Ministries. We have a board that oversees the ministry and is our ongoing prayer support.
That is a great name, but as I looked at your website the ministry has expanded beyond a weekly dinner. Tell us about all of that.
Our expansion to other needs has grown quickly. Our motto is “Neighbors helping Neighbors.” We have a Facebook page where we often list a need — and quickly someone responds to meet that need. We found a need in the schools to provide coats, warm clothing for kids in need. We established a clothing closet at Spirit Lake elementary in 2017 that has now expanded to several schools. We started a closet at Athol elementary last year; this year we’ll be at Betty Kiefer Elementary and John Brown Elementary in Rathdrum and Timberlake High School in Spirit Lake. We provide all types of clothing and footwear in a private setting of a “clothing closet” at the school so that every child can be warm, dry and ready to learn!
We also provide summer weekend lunches and weekend bags for kids involved in the summer lunch program at the schools but don’t have access to lunch on the weekends. No one goes hungry on our watch. We provided 532 free weekend lunches last summer, and 373 lunches so far this summer. We partnered with Real Life ministries to adopt 10 local families at Christmas donating gifts and grocery cards.
In fact, throughout the year we step in to help families with gas and grocery cards to fill the gap till the next paycheck. Finally, we have a Men’s Breakfast and a Women’s Breakfast the first Saturday of each month. Just check our website calendar for the time and location. Everyone pays for their own meal, but we started them because there seemed to be a desire by men and women to meet and this has brought people together in fellowship and service.
You don’t seem like a person who rests on past successes. What are your plans in the future to meet other needs?
We just started a Diaper Bank, which we hope will grow in the next year. We would love to find a place here to have a “for-profit” thrift store which would help pay for our programs. We’re praying for a building of our own that would be a “Help Center” that would house a kitchen and dining area for free meals, a food pantry and a resource center for our social service programs. Finally, a voucher program for doctor and dentist visits, eyeglasses, groceries and clothing.
Amy, North Idaho is blessed to have you as part of the community! Often we think taking on a challenge is too much but I am reminded of the verse from 2 Corinthians 12:9 that says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” It is this love of Christ that will have a profound impact.
If folks want to donate or help out how do they reach you?
They can access us on our website, cupofgrace.life, or they can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Any donations can be sent to Cup of Grace, P.O. Box 744, Spirit Lake, ID 83869. We also appreciate prayers. Please remember us and so many ministries in the area.