Aspen Chapel’s minister, Nicholas Vesey, will prepare one of his signature dishes this Martin Luther King Day for others to enjoy at a later date.

“I’m cooking spaghetti Bolognese,” Vesey said. “It’s a particular favorite of mine, spaghetti Bolognese. I’m English and I love the European taste.”

Over the past few years, Vesey and other members of the Aspen Chapel have traditionally cooked a family-style meal on MLK Day and served it to the Aspen Homeless Shelter’s clients. However, due to the pandemic, the special MLK Day meal, Jan. 18, will not occur at the chapel like usual, but will carry on nonetheless.

This year, Aspen Chapel has invited interested community members to prepare a meal for eight people on MLK Day, freeze it in a disposable container, and bring it to the day center at the Pitkin County Health and Human Services building (405 Castle Creek Road) anytime after Jan. 18.

“During this time of COVID, I think one of the things that all of us are looking for is, how can we serve?” Vesey said.

The Aspen Homeless Shelter will store the frozen meals and serve them as part of its Hot Evening Meal program, which provides food and nourishment to individuals in the community who may need a helping hand.

“I think, quite often, the people who are less fortunate than ourselves feel not seen in the community — almost invisible,” Vesey said. “Martin Luther King Day is really all about inclusion, about service, about serving our communities.”

According to Vesey, 20 community members had already committed to making 160 meals for the Chapel’s “Cook up a Storm” event on Monday.

“Everytime they sit down over the next period of time, they will know that someone has made this meal with love,” Vesey said.

Meals should be clearly labeled and can be meat based, vegetarian, or even a dessert, Vesey explained. Anyone interested in preparing a meal can email Vesey at nicholas@aspenchapel.org for additional information.

Aspen Homeless Shelter Executive Dr. Vince Savage, who has devoted most of his life to social justice work, recalled jumping in his 1961 Volkswagen Beetle in Bloomington, Indiana, and driving south to participate in the Civil Rights Movement, where he learned from Martin Luther King Jr., himself, at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

“Our mission back then was either voter registration or organizing the Poor People’s March on Washington,” Savage said. “I wasn’t part of the march at Edmund Pettus Bridge, but I had been part of plenty of other marches through small towns in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.”

“It means a lot,” Savage said of the home-cooked meals the Aspen Chapel’s “Cook up a Storm” event would produce. “It’s not just eating a sandwich on the street corner somewhere, it really is a link to people feeling like they have a home of sorts.”

Matthew Bennett is a reporter for the Aspen Daily News. He can be reached at: matthew@aspendailynews.com