Jeromy York cried when he saw the images of Gatlinburg going up in flames.
He cried, turned to his wife and said, “I’ve gotta do something.”
Jeromy didn’t have the money to go, a friend gave him five hundred dollars.
Jeromy York, whose Tennessee roots run deep, packed his concessions trailer and lit out down the road in that Volunteer East Tennessee Spirit. Traveling from Gainesboro TN to Pigeon Forge, he didn’t know what to expect, he just answered the call on his heart.
The trip took two and a half hours.
“I didn’t grow up there. . . didn’t go to school there, but the place has always felt like home and my heart told me to go. My wife and I spent our honeymoon in the mountains.”
Jeromy was home in the mountains that now smelled of ash. Mountains wiped clean of color -save gray and black -with a dull brown heat scorched scrub pine here and there. Upon arriving at Cates Lanes in Pigeon Forge, he set up his trailer, Southern Rock Bouncin BBQ and started serving.
Three hundred sandwiches the first day.
Southern Rock Bouncin’ BBQ was the only hot meal hundreds those displaced by the fire enjoyed.
Dolly Parton says, “the mountains are healers,” but let me tell you, from where I stand in The Distribution Center with my scuffed shoes on a cold concrete floor, Jeromy York has offered a lot of healing. I haven’t written about the mother and son I met and how his food helped give them hope. I’m getting to it, just be patient.
Inside The Distribution Center, the smell of Southern Rock Bouncin BBQ made my hungry tongue want to smack my brains out. Alas, I was so busy I didn’t get a single bite. However, the second week I noticed that his shiny trailer had a cardboard sign on it saying Donations Accepted. Let me tell you this for certain, $500 won’t cover the cost of three hundred sandwiches, let alone the grand total Jeromy prepared during his ten-day stay. I’ll tell ya . . . that Jeromy is a big ole boy with a generous heart.
Want to guess how many sandwiches he prepared during that time? Fifteen Thousand. That’s right my loves, 15,000 sandwiches.
Jeromy not only fed the displaced, but he sent doggie bags home. Bones for the puppies, because scared puppies also need comfort.
Talk about the scripture Feed My Sheep. Let me tell you this world needs more people like Mr. Southern Rock, Jeromy.
Now I don’t know Jeromy for Adam’s Housecat. He’s just like everyone else I meet at The Distribution Center, he hadn’t the time to chat. He was too busy feeding folk, and being a blessing. I do know this: while the college kids took selfies outside The Distribution Center posting Facebook images of how much they were helping (and then leaving after an hour), Jeromy was cooking chicken, pulling pork and serving up hamburgers. All day. Every day. For ten days until the well went dry.
But now the well is dry.
If you want to send some Christmas love to someone who rolled up on site and asked, “who’s hungry?” Someone who is not receiving Gov’mint aide, who is a hard-working family man filled with volunteer pride, then Jeromy is your man. I just placed a monetary contribution in the mail and I urge you to do the same.
Here’s the address:
176 Earl Flatt Lane
Gainesboro TN 38562
Note: He has granted permission to use his real name and give you his mailing address. Thank you Jeromy for feeding God’s sheep.
Renea Winchester is a traditionally-published author of three books. She is a Jesus lover, a gardener, and a giver of hugs. She may be reached at P.O. Box 404, Webster NC 28788