Samaritan Ministries recognizes two special recipients of Volunteer Servant Leadership Award

Irma Jackson, Jan Kelly, and Minnie Blakely pose for a picture as Jackson and Blakely receive their awards

Samaritan Ministries recognizes two special recipients of Volunteer Servant Leadership Award
July 14
14:33 2021

Samaritan Ministries is pleased to announce Irma Jackson and Minnie Blakely as the two 2021 recipients of the Myrtie Davis Lifetime Volunteer Servant Leadership Award.

The award was established in 2017 to honor a long-time volunteer(s) for selfless commitment to Samaritan Ministries and its guests. The award is meant to be an encouragement to all to act on the words of Jesus in Matthew 25 and to inspire others to give of their time, talents, and resources to help the hungry and homeless of our community. 

Irma Jackson started volunteering in 1982, just months after the Soup Kitchen first opened its doors 40 years ago. A few years later in 1989, Minnie Blakely joined the team and the two became friends and have bonded through their service to our neighbors in need. Both have served regularly every second Sunday since.

Their fellow volunteers would say the pair complement each other well when it comes to their leadership of the second Sunday team. Both are incredibly dependable and have a motherly nature that makes the team feel like one big family. Minnie and Irma are passionate about Samaritan’s mission and have a strong Christian faith they put into practice every day.

Minnie prides herself in washing the dishes the right way—and was the first to make sure all volunteers cleaned and sanitized the dishes to the best standard. She never misses an opportunity to eat lunch with guests when the shift winds down a bit. Minnie often shares memories and personal stories with guests. When (she thinks) nobody is looking, Minnie often slips extra desserts and bread onto lunch trays for guests. Samaritan’s Sunday staff member Barbara says that Minnie has a huge heart. She recalls traveling years ago and finding Minnie had put a prayer on the wall for Barbara and gave her a special gift upon her return. Minnie has always found meaningful ways to make a big impact in the lives of others.

Irma always ensures the correct processes and procedures are being followed in the Soup Kitchen. If operations get hectic throughout the day at the ministry, Irma has a unique ability to bring calm to any situation. As a skilled massage therapist, Irma is always willing to use her healing hands to alleviate any stress from her fellow team members. Over the years, Irma has brought her daughter and granddaughter to volunteer many times—three generations of women who have the hearts of servants and a love for others. Irma is very involved with her family and considers Samaritan’s guests an extension to her family as well.

Every second Sunday, from the moment the volunteer shift starts until the last dish is cleaned, Irma and Minnie truly are the hands and feet of Jesus at Samaritan, both in service to the guests and by making everyone they engage with know they are valued and respected. They keep things fun by bringing special treats for holidays and celebrating Christian love every day.

Through their countless hours over 30+ years of service, Irma and Minnie have developed lasting relationships with guests, Cornerstone men, staff, and fellow volunteers. While their service was put on hold in 2020 during the pandemic, both Irma and Minnie have returned to serving in the Soup Kitchen again and the Ministry could not be more grateful. 

“Volunteers are the heartbeat of Samaritan, with 3,000+ people annually serving those in need in our community,” said Jan Kelly, executive director. “Samaritan is always in need of volunteers in various shifts and it’s important to note how big of an impact your service has on our guests.”

Volunteers can sign up directly for all shifts online at

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