THE POST-SIGNAL / Steve Bandy
A capital campaign is underway to raise funding to build a “new” Ms. Helen’s Soup Kitchen. The current facility, seen here, is iin serious disrepair, according to Father Mikel Polson, pastor of St. Michael Church, which operates the kitchen. Plans are to tear down this building and construct a new building in its place.
Kiwanians learn of plans to build a ‘new’ Ms. Helen’s Soup Kitchen
Plans for the razing and reconstruction of Ms. Helen’s Soup Kitchen were explained to members of the Crowley Kiwanis Club Thursday.
Father Mikel Polson, pastor of St. Michael Catholic Church, told Kiwanians of the plans during their weekly luncheon at Rice Palace Restaurant.
Polson noted that Mrs. Helen John began a mission to feed anyone that came to her door many years ago. In 2002, in her memory, a family home was donated to St. Michael Church and converted it into a soup kitchen that feeds the poor and hungry in Crowley.
“The building currently being occupied — affectionately called ‘Ms. Helen’s Soup Kitchen’ — is in serious disrepair and is no longer suitable to fulfill our mission,” said Polson. “As such, after prayer and consultation, it is time to build a new facility so that anyone who is hungry can have a dignified establishment in which to receive nourishment.”
The new facility will be built at the current site of the kitchen on Seventh Street and will have more than double the seating capacity as well as an improved food receiving and distribution operation, according to Polson.
Ms. Helen’s serves as the delivery point for Second Harvest Food Bank and Walmart donations of food. Dry goods are distributed to Crowley Christian Care and to the Welcome House.
The new facility will cost approximately $300,000 to build, and when it is complete, funding will be needed to sustain its future operation, Polson explained.
Work to demolish the current building has been donated by an anonymous donor, according to the pastor.
“We always strive to keep the operating cost to a minimum, and Ms. Helen’s is solely sustainted by donated funds from our local community through St. Michael Church, with assistance from First Baptist Church and First United Methodist Church,” Polson said. “Current operational costs, which include two small salaries, are around $40,000 to $45,000.”
Ms. Helen’s is open every Monday, Wednesday and Friday feeding about 200 to 250 people each day. This number doubles in the summer months and on school holidays due to the number of children who visit for a meal.
And Polson pointed out that, on the days meals are being served, “there are only eight or 10 cars parked around the building.” Most come on bicycles or on foot.
“Monetary donations and building materials are needed right now so that funds will not have to be borrowed to build the new facility,” Polson said. “Also, all funds raised over and above the $300,000 goal will go to the future success of Ms. Helen’s in order for the mission to continue.
“St. Michael Church is charged with the operation of Ms. Helen’s, but it is the community’s charge to feed the hungry and less fortunate.”
For information on the capital campaign currently underway or to donate, contact Polson at 783-7394.