Washington's Chrislyn Wedderien uses her talents to help thousands

Posted January 10, 2020 5:00 a.m. EST

Owner of Washington's Carryout by Chrislyn, Chrislyn Wedderien has used her culinary skills and passion for the community to aid thousands during North Carolina's turbulent hurricane season.

This article was written for our sponsor, Washington Tourism Development Authority.

Each one of the businesses in Washington brings something different to the community, bolstering the small-town feel that has drawn so many new residents.

For some, it's a history of serving food through good times and bad; for others, it's infusing an old-world sophistication amid modernization. For Chrislyn Wedderien, owner of Carryout by Chrislyn, it's using her unique strengths to give back to the community.

A transplant from New York City, Wedderien was deeply impacted by the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. As she watched on TV, she was struck by a sense of frustration that she couldn't be there to help and vowed to use her skills whenever possible to make a difference within her own community.

"I have the gift to feed, so I'm going to feed," Wedderein said. "I can't go into high water, can't go into a burning building. If nothing else, I know I can make food."

Normally, Wedderien operates the restaurant Carryout by Chrislyn. The popular eatery offers residents the convenience of swinging by and picking up ready-to-eat meals, skipping grocery shopping and meal prep so they can enjoy more quality time with loved ones.

The menu consists of everything from salads to sausage balls — not to mention the famous fresh mashed potatoes that sparked the initial inspiration to start the business.

"You go to Walmart and the mashed potatoes are how old?" Wedderien pointed out. "Stuff is being pulled out of bags and boxes and packages. What we continually emphasize is that the mashed potatoes were made today. Everything is homemade — handmade. Your food is so fresh that we just made it."

Just months before the location opened, Hurricane Matthew hit and Wedderien opened her kitchen and began cooking. At the time, she was able to make around 150 meals for friends, neighbors and anyone who was without power or struggling. No matter where they came from or what their background was, she was ready to serve for one simple reason.

"Three days without a hot meal? You really feel that."

But helping after Hurricane Matthew was just the beginning for Wedderien's service to her community. Just a few years later, Hurricane Florence devastated North Carolina with heavy rainfall, loss of power and widespread evacuations. This time around, Wedderien opened her kitchen for a much larger effort: to reach as many people in need as possible.

"In total, we would end up making 13,081 meals," Wedderien said. "It was a lot of little towns that Red Cross couldn't get to. These were small little towns that nobody really heard of. We got in there first with macaroni and cheese, and beef stew."

That volunteer effort resulted in Wedderien receiving the Governor's Medallion Award for Volunteer service early in 2019, but it wasn't a solo effort. Hundreds of people assisted with food preparation, delivery and general operations.

"It's operationally huge; there are 500 people with me," Wedderien said. "Where's the food going? Do they know they're getting it? We were delivering food two and a half hours away. To deliver hot food, that's quite an operational feat. We had a GoFundMe."

Today, Wedderien continues to serve happy customers, many of which thank her for her service and ask what they can do to help the next time around. Hurricanes are unpredictable, so there's no telling when she'll open her doors to volunteers again.

Interested residents should keep an eye on the official Carryout by Chrislyn Facebook page to see when opportunities to donate or volunteer arise.

In the meantime, the eatery has expanded and offers event catering and multi-course meal prep for special occasions. Wedderien said the broccoli salad and chicken pot pie are particularly good this time of year — or you can just try the mashed potatoes that started it all.

This article was written for our sponsor, Washington Tourism Development Authority.

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