Labor of Love

By Michael Johnson

July 5, 2014

POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — Pastor Charles Birchfield believes in showing his faith through his work.

Captain’s Creamery, a riverboat pilot house that’s been renovated into a mini restaurant at the corner of Main and Second streets in downtown Point Pleasant, serves as the site where Birchfield, of Lifeline Apostolic Church, and a handful of volunteers work to raise money for their outreach program known as Kitchen of Blessing.

The kitchen partakes in a food distribution outreach every third Monday of each month for families in need. The kitchen receives its food from Huntington Food Bank, but they usually will need more food to help the area’s needy families.

“Anytime anyone is in need, they can call us,” Birchfield said.

In order help the needy, they must keep food in stock. To do that, Birchfield and volunteers participate in various fundraisers. But it’s the work they do at Captain’s Creamer, owned by the Point Pleasant River Museum, that has helped raise the most money.

“We’re always out trying to make a buck … legally and righteously,” Birchfield said with a laugh. “I better be careful how I phrase that.”

Birchfield says the outreach helps between 140-150 families.

Captain’s Creamery serves as the kitchen outreach’s base of operations every Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. On most days, the creamery is used to serve ice cream to tourists visiting the museum

“The Point Pleasant River Museum has had this (pilot house) for several years and they’ve always sold ice cream,” he said. “Every food item that we sell in here goes to the Kitchen of Blessing food pantry, and all the money from the sale of ice cream goes to the museum. No one gets paid here. It’s all a work of love.”

“No one gets paid, except with a sandwich … maybe,” kitchen director Diane Chambers said. She and Birchfield are regulars at Captain’s Creamery.

Birchfield said the museum pays for all the utilities of the creamery, and gives the kitchen a percentage of its ice cream sales.

The volunteers offer a running menu with a special each week that costs only $5. The specials vary, dependent on what Chambers feels like cooking that day.

“It varies from one week to the next,” she said.

The menu consists of the standard fare: hot dogs, cheeseburgers, fries, chile cheese fries, brats, nachos and cheese, etc. Of course, there’s also ice cream, milk shakes, floats and sundaes. Prices of the food items range from $1 to $3.

“People ask us, ‘How can you sell it that cheap?’ Well, we don’t have to pay any labor and we’re not paying utilities,” Birchfield said. “So if we can make $2.50, that’s $2.50 for the food bank.”

Birchfield said use of Captain’s Creamery has worked out for the best because the church can raise money for their kitchen outreach and he can meet with people and spread the Gospel.

“I have a lot of fun and am able to meet people,” he said. “I’m a people person. When people eat here, I like to talk to them. We get a lot of people who come here for the museum or the park … people from all over the country come in here.”

Birchfield is quick to point out that the museum owns the proper permits to sell food, and he and his volunteers have all the necessary “health cards” to sell food.

“This is a labor of love and that’s why we’re doing it,” he said of the kitchen outreach program. “We’re trying to help people. To me, that is what Jesus said. If someone’s hungry, you feed them. If they’re naked, you clothe them.

“If someone comes to you and says they need help, what are you going to do? Are you going to help them or are you going to just pray for them? We like to put our faith in action. We will show you our faith by our works.

“If you have faith, you will have works.”