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Clarksville and Manna Cafe homeless advocate loses battle with cancer

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Posted at 8:53 PM, Sep 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-16 23:36:42-04

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A man who helped provide food and shelter for thousands of members of the homeless community in Clarksville over the last 12 years has died.

Kenny York had battled cancer for the last year and a half. He was 60.

According to the Manna Cafe Ministries website, Kenny York was a missionary in Nashville in 2004, when he utilized his love for cooking by overseeing a weekly meal for the homeless and poor. In 2008, he took the first steps toward launching Manna Café by taking donated food into a local homeless camp, along with friend Vicki, who later became his wife. In 2010, the Yorks relocated to Clarksville, and started serving one hot meal a week to people in need.

Throughout the years, Manna Cafe has grown to include food and clothing distribution, hot meals, assistance from caseworkers, free health clinics and emergency warming and cooling shelters.

After previously being homeless, York returned to the streets in 2014 for two weeks. His mission was to increase awareness about homelessness and the challenges of living on the streets.

The mood was somber at the Manna Cafe food distribution center on Providence Boulevard. York's longtime friend and chief operating officer of Manna Cafe, Ken Shipley, said York is missed, but the work continues.

"When people asked all of us in the last year what will happen when Kenny is gone, Manna can’t go away because it does so much for the community and for the area," said Shipley.

Shipley said York was a musician, and he was also hardworking, selfless and dedicated to serving those in need.

Shipley estimated the homeless population in Clarksville is currently more than 600 and continues to grow. He said Manna Cafe's services will continue to be in high demand. Volunteers and staff will ensure York's vision will continue.

"Manna Café has done so much for the community and it keeps growing and growing," said Shipley. "It will continue as his legacy."

York is survived by his wife, Victoria, sons Dustin York (Jill) and Jacob York, daughter Angela York Morgan (Wesley) and stepson Joshua Hill (Hannah), grandchildren Carter and Kinley York, Zoe, Urijah, Haddassah and Roman Hill.

Funeral arrangements have not been finalized. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations be made to Manna Cafe Ministries at mannacafeministries.com