WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – Recent major storms in the area resulted in many people losing their homes, personal items, and some even their lives due to flash flooding. The natural disaster in Kentucky last week led Matt Welsch, along with the help of our own community, to drop the kitchen utensils in Wheeling to take supplies down to the neighboring Bluegrass State to help. 

25 lives taken – but so many more saved. 

Last week’s flash flooding in our neighboring state of Kentucky called for major relief efforts for those who were affected, and Vagabond Kitchen owner, Matt Welsch, along with Morgantown restaurant owner, Marion Ohlinger, jumped on the opportunity to help. 

“We felt like West Virginia didn’t get the attention we needed in the last big flood that we had and at that time neither of us could help out because of our businesses. So, the way it fell, we could actually get down there to do something and we felt like if we could, we should.”

Matt Welsch, Owner and Executive Chef, Vagabond Kitchen

With just three days to rally supplies, they received $9,500 in cash donations, and an added estimated $4,500 in donated goods from our community here in West Virginia. 

Now – he has returned home to Wheeling, and Matt says that being the representative of our community’s effort allowed him to see a different perspective on the receiving end. 

“Everyone was like, ‘Thank you so much for coming. We thought we were forgotten.’ and that’s exactly why we went because we have felt forgotten in this state in the past and we didn’t want our neighbors in Kentucky to feel that way too. So, it was really amazing to be able to do that for them and I just think it helped morale out a ton – let alone the money and the goods.”

Matt Welsch, Owner and Executive Chef, Vagabond Kitchen

His work at Vagabond Kitchen in Wheeling allowed Matt to be able to cook five different easily reheated meals to serve around 100 people a piece for the people of the Bluegrass State to use after they were gone. 

Vagabond Kitchen’s Appalachian comfort doesn’t just produce a good meal – it’s the meaning behind the business that carried their mission through. 

“It’s that spirit of Appalachia – of the West Virginia, like you got to be there for your family, be there for your friends, your neighbors- and I feel like that was what was really informing that whole trip, was like, ‘This is – we’re on purpose here. We’re on a goal. We have a mission to fulfill, and we’re going to come down there and we’re going to do – we’re going to put our money where our mouth is. If we’re going to talk the talk, we’re going to walk the walk.

“It’s that spirit of Appalachia – of the West Virginia, like you got to be there for your family, be there for your friends, your neighbors- and I feel like that was what was really informing that whole trip, was like, ‘This is – we’re on purpose here. We’re on a goal. We have a mission to fulfill, and we’re going to come down there and we’re going to do – we’re going to put our money where our mouth is. If we’re going to talk the talk, we’re going to walk the walk.

Matt Welsch, Owner and Executive Chef, Vagabond Kitchen

Matt says that after this experience, he encourages everyone to take action in making a difference because we all have the power to do so in our own ways.