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Community chef cooks up Sunday dinners for those in need in Detroit

Rhonda Harvell fulfills life-long dream of serving community


DETROIT – Rhonda Harvell could be called a giving spirit. As a former restaurant owner, Harvell spent years serving customers delicious food, but she is cooking for a new crowd.

"I just went out, and I saw there was a need for the people in Detroit, the homeless, and it just touched my heart," Harvell said.

Every Sunday, Harvell creates a menu and prepares a multi-course meal from scratch. Then, she and the volunteers serve the homeless at the corner of Third Avenue and Martin Luther King Boulevard.

"We do lamb. We do beef. We do chicken, meatballs, fish," Harvell said.

"That might be the best and biggest meal they get all week," Mitch Albom said.

"Yes, and I try to make the plates super big, you know. I want them to have enough," Harvell said.

This fully self-funded program serves roughly 200 people each week, and Harvell is yet to miss a Sunday.

"Can I ask what sometimes it might cost in a typical week to feed 200 people?" Albom asked.

"Anywhere from $500 to $1,000," Harvell said.

"So you are taking that much of your own money every week?" Albom asked.

"Yes, and it's trying, but somehow, I do it," Harvell said.

The people Harvell feeds have become her extended family. Through her food and her nonprofit group, Believe in the Light, Harvell is finally able to fulfill her life-long dream of serving her community.

"Why Believe in the Light?" Albom asked.

"Because you look for the light for everything and, you know, that was my motto. When you cook anything from the heart and the food is good, everybody is silent and eating and enjoying everything," Harvell said.

From restaurant owner to community chef, Harvell is cooking up Sunday dinner for those in need in the heart of Detroit.