On December 15, 2019, in conjunction with the Chiefs home game against the Denver Broncos, Randi Hobbs was recognized by Blue KC and KCFX/Chiefs Radio Network for her work with Thelma’s Kitchen, a non-profit, donate-what-you-can café.
“Thelma’s Kitchen is one of the most unique and important nonprofits in our community, and Randi Hobbs has been a huge part of it as both a volunteer and now part-time staff,” said Christina Lively, Blue KC’s Department Vice President of Marketing and Communications. “Through Thelma’s Kitchen, Randi is helping to transform both the community as a whole and also to better the life of each person who comes through the café’s door. We’re proud to honor her as a Blue KC Here for Good Hero.”
In 2018, Hobbs had her first experience with Thelma’s Kitchen when she and her colleagues volunteered to serve lunch. Immediately impressed with the organization’s mission and purpose, Hobbs began volunteering on a regular basis on her own, doing whatever needed to be done. After just over a year, she was added to the staff of Thelma’s Kitchen, now serving to oversee guest relations.
“Serving others has a way of healing the soul,” said Hobbs, a lifelong resident of Kansas City. “It is so rewarding to watch our community connect: old, young, rich, poor and so many nationalities. I see clearly the frailty of our everyday existence and how just a smile or kind word can change a life.”
Located on the corner of 31st and Troost in Kansas City, Mo., Thelma’s Kitchen is named for Thelma Altschul, who founded the café’s parent organization, Reconciliation Services, a nonprofit working to combat social and mental health disparities in the city, over 30 years ago with her husband’s help. After feeding the hungry and homeless in her own home, she recognized the need to feed everyone in Kansas City. Now, Thelma’s Kitchen, which opened in 2018 and is run by Reconciliation Services, is on a mission to feed the people of Kansas City while breaking down the racial and economic dividing line that has defined Troost in the past.
Any and all are welcome at Thelma’s Kitchen. Guests can enjoy a meal at donate-what-you-can pricing or can volunteer in exchange for a meal. The food is healthy, local, seasonal whenever available, and the café as a whole is almost entirely run by volunteers.
“One of my favorite sayings is, ‘It takes a village,’” said Hobbs. “Giving back gives me complete joy. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy, but it does mean that I feel grateful and lucky to have found this village. It’s a blessing to watch every volunteer take pride in the work they are doing and coming together for each other and our customers.”
Part of the national One World Everybody Eats collective of pay-what-you-can cafes, Thelma’s Kitchen is open daily for lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Those interested in volunteering can sign up for a variety of tasks from serving and greeting to prepping food to cleaning. According to the organization, anyone with a good attitude and a hard-working spirit is welcome, and even minors ages 16 to 18 can serve with a signed parent waiver.
“I’m humbled by this recognition, as I’m doing something I absolutely love,” said Hobbs of being named a Blue KC Here for Good Hero. “Serving in Thelma’s Kitchen is like walking into Thanksgiving every single day.”
The Blue KC Here for Good Hero program recognizes strong community partners and the men and women who work or volunteer with those organizations to make Kansas City a better place to live, work and play. Prior to each Chiefs home game, Blue KC selects one honoree to attend the game, while also enjoying the KCFX/Chiefs Radio Network Tailgate Party and a visit to the radio broadcast booth. Blue KC also donates $1,000 to the organization of each honoree.