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A West Baltimore woman has spent her life in service. Coronavirus wasn’t going to stop her from feeding her community.

Lefty Costley, left, picks up a free lunch from Roxane Prettyman, the community outreach director and culinary director for First Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Sandtown-Winchester. The outreach ministry has expanded its soup kitchen during the coronavirus pandemic from one day a week, Wednesday, to Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Prettyman and the volunteers prepared a choice of turkey and tuna salad today, served with cake and bottled water, which they gave out under a tent outside the church to locals who were required to wear masks.
Lefty Costley, left, picks up a free lunch from Roxane Prettyman, the community outreach director and culinary director for First Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Sandtown-Winchester. The outreach ministry has expanded its soup kitchen during the coronavirus pandemic from one day a week, Wednesday, to Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Prettyman and the volunteers prepared a choice of turkey and tuna salad today, served with cake and bottled water, which they gave out under a tent outside the church to locals who were required to wear masks. (Amy Davis)

Lunch hour was approaching, which meant Roxane Prettyman was packaging up more of her homemade meals in the backroom of First Mount Calvary Baptist Church on Fulton Street in West Baltimore.

Since the coronavirus pandemic, the church has offered the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood to-go lunches every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Prettyman, a member of the church for 30 years, savors her lead role in the goodwill.

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On this Wednesday, it was tuna salad or turkey (she baked five turkeys the Sunday before) on a fresh bed of lettuce with a slice of ripe tomato, accompanied by a pickle, potato chips, a piece of cake and iced tea or water.

With help from the church sexton, Raymond Brooks, some senior members and her adult daughter, Ashley Pryor, the efficient assembly line produced 100 meals. Prettyman takes pride that each day brings a different menu.

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Starting at 11:30, she served lunches from a tent set up outside the church’s back door with COVID-19 safety measures taken. Afterward, she got in her car to deliver meals to the elderly.

Every meal comes with a warm greeting from Prettyman, who spent 39 years as a paralegal specialist for the Social Security Administration before retiring in 2018.

Roxane Prettyman, the community outreach director and culinary director for First Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Sandtown-Winchester, stacks pieces of cake on a tray to bring out the tent where she and other volunteers were serving free takeout lunches. The outreach ministry has expanded its soup kitchen during the coronavirus pandemic from one day a week, Wednesday, to Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.. Prettyman and the volunteers prepared a choice of turkey and tuna salad today, served with cake and bottled water. She has been involved with the church's outreach work for about 30 years.
Roxane Prettyman, the community outreach director and culinary director for First Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Sandtown-Winchester, stacks pieces of cake on a tray to bring out the tent where she and other volunteers were serving free takeout lunches. The outreach ministry has expanded its soup kitchen during the coronavirus pandemic from one day a week, Wednesday, to Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.. Prettyman and the volunteers prepared a choice of turkey and tuna salad today, served with cake and bottled water. She has been involved with the church's outreach work for about 30 years. (Amy Davis)

“A young guy once asked, ‘Why are you doing this?’ And I said, ‘Well, I’m from this community, I live right here, so I see the need for it and I just love sharing,’” Prettyman said.

“He said, ‘That is really good — thank you so much.’ I told him the thank you means the most to me, just knowing they’re grateful.”

Clyde Ray, chairman of the deacon board, said Prettyman couldn’t wait to retire so she could dedicate more time to the church. When she was still working, she used vacation days when the church was able to host sit-in lunches.

“I think she lives her whole life helping others who can’t always help themselves,” Ray said. “Roxane has been the rock and the cornerstone to feed the people here at First Mount Calvary.”

Prettyman’s titles at the church and in the community continue to grow.

She serves as the church’s community outreach director in addition to being in charge of the culinary work. In the community, she’s an elected Baltimore City Democratic State Central Committee member, vice president of the Western Police District Community Relations Council and vice president of the Fulton Community Association.

“God has given me the strength to carry this through with the help of some beautiful people,” she said. “I truly believe that this is what God has as my purpose in life.

“I’m here early in the morning until late at night and it can be seven days a week. I love it. I’m always trying to find the next thing I can do to help the community.”

Pryor, a pre-kindergarten teacher, is proudly following her mother’s path.

“I’d say her unconditional love inspires me the most,” Pryor said. “She loves from her heart, no matter who you are, what position you’re in or how you’ve treated her.”

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