Separate report: Former Waterville sports bar becomes ‘a safe space in the storm’
Most communities are lucky enough to have a place where people can get a free hot meal.
The Waterville-Winslow area now has two.
A month after opening the Stone Soup Cafe at Winslow Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, the Waterville Area Soup Kitchen will open The Lighthouse at 38 College Ave on Monday. in Waterville, just across from the US Post Office.
“As a group, we came up with the name and it’s because it’s a beacon for our community,” said Carla Caron, Chair of the Soup Kitchen’s Board of Directors. “It’s a safe space in the storm, built on a rock.”
On Wednesday, Caron was at the College Avenue site, which the soup kitchen rents from Areti LaCroix and which was once the End Zone sports bar. Volunteers prepared it for Monday’s opening at 11 a.m.
“We will start serving at 11:20 a.m. and until 12:30 p.m.,” Caron said. “Initially, we will be open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. In a month, we will be serving six days a week. We just need to train and establish our new volunteers, and we are always looking for more.
For the past two years, Caron and the team, including Chef Chad Cookson, have prepared meals at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Eustis Parkway and taken them to Veterans Park, St. verte, at the head of the falls and at the competition three days a week. .
“We served 5,467 meals as of April 16,” Caron said.
Guests receiving meals know The Lighthouse will replace that mobile effort and some are eager to move into the new space, Caron said, but she’s sure they’ll acclimate and come to enjoy the social interaction.
“It may sound simple, but being able to come in, sit down and have lunch with new and old friends is a goal,” she said.
This spring marks the first time since the Sacred Heart soup kitchen on Pleasant Street closed two years ago that the communities of Waterville and Winslow have had free hot meals. Some of the same people who volunteered for Sacred Heart also serve on the board of the Waterville Area Soup Kitchen, which supports itself through fundraisers, grants, donations and help from the Good Shepherd food bank.
Aline Poulin spearheaded the effort, contributing funds from her own pocket, then got Caron involved. Caron said she got to know the customers.
“I find so much joy in that,” she said. “I can see the value and the potential they have, if they knew how appreciated they are.”
Caron, 54, is a retired office manager for a doctor’s office and has worked in other health care settings. His philosophy for helping the less fortunate is not to try to fix them, but to listen. Her faith in God is what drives her, she says.
“We have people living in their cars, people who can’t make ends meet, with the economy and groceries being so expensive. We just hope we can fill that gap. We are honored that they allow us to help them when needed.
As she spoke, volunteer Austin Segel was working on outfitting the new space. Dean Dolham was chopping green peppers in the kitchen while stirring a pot of ground beef on the stove for the chili that would soon be served to patrons of city parks. An engineer who retired from Sappi a year ago, Dolham also built a stair ramp to transport canned goods from the basement where they are stored.
“This space is absolutely perfect for us,” he said. “He is close to our customers for the most part. It’s kind of a central location without being downtown.
Monday’s opening day menu will include shepherd’s pie, green salad and homemade rolls, according to Caron, who is hoping for a good turnout.
“We can serve up to 100 people,” she said.
Amy Calder has been a reporter for the Morning Sentinel for 34 years. His columns appear here on Saturdays. It can be attached to [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.
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