MATTOON — Fit-2-Serve, a faith-based nonprofit organization, plans to celebrate its 11th anniversary by hosting an open house from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Fit-2-Serve will use the open house as an opportunity to celebrate its many volunteers. Community members are invited to tour the Fit-2-Serve facility at 1320 Lafayette Ave., plus the Teaching Kitchen in the adjacent Green House. Visitors will also get to learn more about Fit-2-Serve's Community Bridges programs. Light refreshments will be served by Don Sol.

Bill Duey of Mattoon founded Fit-2-Serve in 2008 while working as a professor at Concordia University in Chicago. In 2016, Duey resigned his position to serve full time as the volunteer director of Fit-2-Serve. He soon began partnering with nine Mattoon churches to serve a hot lunch each Friday to guests of the local homeless shelter.

Next, Fit-2-Serve began its "community gardening" program as an opportunity for community members to tend plots together and then share in the harvest. This is part of Fit-2-Serve's stated mission of equipping people for works of service.

During the next three year, Fit-2-Serve expanded its Community Bridges youth programming. Fit-2-Serve reported that more than 800 students participate each month through Generation-2-Generation, Farm-2-Table, School-2-Farm, Learn-2-Grow, and Talents-2-Strengths.

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Each program provides opportunities for volunteers to get involved with inter-generational activities held with elementary schools and Mattoon Area Family YMCA youth summer campers. In addition, several Mattoon High School programs have been partnering with Community Bridges.

Fit-2-Serve also has been working with Eastern Illinois University's Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism and plans to expand its partnership to working with other EIU departments with Lake Land College. In addition, the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs has provided three full-time AmeriCorps VISTA positions for Fit-2-Serve.

For more information, contact Fit-2-Serve at 217-235-3839 or visit www.fit-2-serve.net.

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Rob Stroud is a reporter for the JG-TC, covering the city of Mattoon, Lake Land College, Cumberland County and areas including Oakland, Casey and Martinsville.

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