This is not a political action diary, but it is a social justice action diary. Kossack aravir brought to my attention this morning the plight of a soup kitchen in Waterville that may have to close its doors as early as September 1st due to lack of funding. The Morning Sentinel's article can be read in full here.
The Sacred Heart Soup Kitchen opened on September 14th, 1980 and has been in continuous operation ever since. According to the Morning Sentinel
Open Monday through Friday, the soup kitchen has 42 volunteers who cooked and served 47,697 free meals to patrons in 2011.The soup kitchen is located in the basement of the Sacred Heart parish, but is operated independently of the parish and is dependent upon cash and in-kind donations in order to operate:
"We're caught in the recession," he said. "My budget was $25,000 for 2011. I spent $28,000 and I took in $22,000 in donations. I put in $3,800 of my own money, but I can't put any more in." (emphasis mine)It is estimated that the soup kitchen feeds between 75 and 120 people every day. Sacred Heart Soup Kitchen has its social justice values in the right place, too feeding those in need without judgment:
Ten years ago, the kitchen had $18,000 in its checking account and organizers didn't have to worry about a thing, he said.
But companies that donated items such as coffee, sliced beef, hamburger and regular money have stopped doing so as businesses changed hands and developed their own financial worries.
"Older folks who were retired gave us checks for $5 to $25 out of their pension and Social Security checks," he said. "They'd send it in every month. Some of those people have passed away or are watching their own pocketbooks. They're having a hard time meeting their own budgets."
"Some people are homeless, some are just down and out, some are transients going through and they're told to come here for a hearty meal, some just play the game, but we don't care," he said. "Most of them are going to hurt without this kitchen because this is their only meal for the day."I spoke on the telephone with the soup kitchen's director Dick Willette this morning. Mr. Willette was able to confirm that the charity is still open and still accepting donations. He expressed his gratitude for anything we can do to help keep the soup kitchen in operation as Maine prepares for one of its legendary bone-chilling winters. Waterville, like many of the former manufacturing towns in Maine, has suffered greatly from a lack of good jobs, a depressed economy, and homelessness. Many elderly who have housing but high winter heating costs depend upon organizations like Sacred Heart Soup Kitchen to make ends meet--especially in the winter months.
Let's show the people of Waterville, Maine, what Daily Kos members can do when there is a call to action. Let's raise 1,000 dollars to help keep this 32 year old soup kitchen in operation this winter. Let's get behind Mr. Willette and his volunteers and stand for social justice and compassion. Let's feed some hungry people.
Donations may be sent by check or money order to:
Sacred Heart Soup KitchenNOTE: Mr. Willette told me that there is no email address or PayPal.
70 Pleasant St.
Waterville, ME 04901
The checks should be marked "Sacred Heart Soup Kitchen"
If you donate, please put "Daily Kos" in the memo line of your check so I can report back to you what we have raised!
Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 9:18 AM PT: UPDATE: According to the Portland Press Herald enough money has been raised to keep the soup kitchen open until January. Donations are still needed however, and hopefully we can get some web presence for the soup kitchen and a paypal account started for them. Thanks to all who donated and sent well-wishes. Mr. Willette, his volunteers and clients must be very relieved at the outpouring of support.