For the past three years, Mark Doggett and a handful of friends, family members and co-workers have made it their business to provide nourishing meals and caring to dozens of people, mostly in the Semmes area.
Calling their loose-knit organization "Go FISH--Feed Individuals, Serve Humanity"--Doggett and his group serve "Soup for Seniors on Thursday" to residents of a local apartment complex once a month; deliver meals each Friday night to those who live in an addiction-recovery home; and weekly take food to those at Eagles Landing, a transitional housing facility for homeless veterans.
At all of these places, the goal is not simply to provide a meal; the people that Go Fish serve are well cared for and do not go hungry. The aim of the group is to share a smile, engage recipients in conversation, and display a genuine kindness and concern toward those at their destinations.
Doggett came to his decision to "look for those who might welcome a good, hot meal and some conversation" after meeting Mike McKinley of One Meal, a group of volunteers who supply about 125 homeless and working poor with a home-cooked meal each Sunday afternoon in downtown Mobile. That meeting led Doggett to look around his community for those that he might serve.
Now, at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month, Doggett makes a big, stainless steel pot of soup or chili; his wife turns out her delicious banana pudding, other Go Fish members make cornbread muffins, potato salad, tea--whatever the group has decided--and they all go to the apartment house where 25 or more seniors are greeted with a smile and a bowl of soup. After each is served, Doggett makes the rounds of the tables and talks a few minutes with each of the occupants; others check on the diners continually to see that they have what they need or want.
The group does pretty much the same thing weekly at the recovery center and the veterans' home.
Doggett said that he and his friends are not special, that they are no different from anyone else. "We are regular neighbors willing to share what we have with others," he said. "There are a lot of needs out there, and I believe that each of us has it in us to reach out and help each other," he continued.
"The beauty of this whole (Go Fish) experience is that we do this because we can, not because we expect anything in return. I believe that interacting with others and enjoying being with them is enough in itself," he said.
Shown in the photo, from left, are Chris Volk, Kim Volk, Misty Pilot, Mark Doggett, Michele Oliver and Lenore Lahti.