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Living to serve Harrisburg Middle School student recognized for volunteerism.

Byline: Travis DeNeal

HARRISBURG -- One young Harrisburg man is being recognized for his continuous service to others in the community.

Briley Houston, a student at Harrisburg Middle School, has been the only volunteer at Heaven's Kitchen in Harrisburg to serve all 29 weeks so far.

Heaven's Kitchen is a mission of the Fowler Bonan Foundation that provides a free meal each week from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Harrisburg First Presbyterian Church Annex. All are welcome to visit and eat.

Each week, various groups volunteer to help prepare and serve meals. In addition, there are many regular volunteers who serve each week.

Only one, though, has been there every week so far, according to Kerry camp, the Fowler Bonan Foundation executive director. That would be Briley.

"Since we began Heaven's Kitchen in Harrisburg 29 weeks ago, Briley is our only volunteer with perfect attendance," Camp said."He's not missed a minute. He cares about our mission and is a wonderful young-adult ambassador for us."

Fellow student volunteers recently nominated Briley to local TV station WSIL-TV 3 for its "Unsung Hero" honor. Tonight (Friday), he'll be featured on the segment at 6 p.m. and again at 10 p.m.

Briley also happens to be Camp's stepson, and Camp said he can't begin to name all the ways Briley helps at Heaven's Kitchen. Briley often is the last volunteer to leave, Camp said.

For Briley, though, his service is not about being recognized. The eighth-grader at Harrisburg Middle School is an unassuming young man who speaks with the thoughtfulness and maturity of someone many years his senior.

"I just like to be there to help out all the volunteers," he said. "Maybe one night, they'll be short a volunteer and I can help out. I want to be there in case I can help with anything."

He says the dinners close to holidays so far, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, have been the most memorable.

More people have been in attendance, and the spirit of togetherness at the holidays fills the dining hall, he says.

He's given thought to his future, and he's already figured out how he wants to earn a living while helping others: law enforcement.

"I've just wanted to be a cop ever since I knew what a cop was," he says.

He also encourages others to come to Heaven's Kitchen at least once, whether to eat or volunteer.

"Anyone who's ever wanted to should come out. We're always happy to have more volunteers and have people come and eat," he said.

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Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:Apr 19, 2019
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