Serving up hope
Posted by PA1 Bill Colclough, Thursday, December 1, 2016
Story and photos by Petty Officer 1st Class Bill Colclough
Members of Coast Guard Sector Anchorage donned aprons instead of their uniforms Tuesday to volunteer at the Downtown Soup Kitchen Hope Center in Anchorage. Cmdr. James Binniker, Lt. j.g. Kellen Stock, Lt. j.g. Jessica Stock, Lt. j.g. Richard Sprouse, and Chief Warrant Officers Dustin Overturf and Mark Riedlinger, all members of the Sector Anchorage wardroom came together to help the center prepare meals for the homeless.
“It’s a good opportunity for the wardroom to share our love and support and give back to our communities,” said Lt. j.g. Jessica Stock, Sector Anchorage, incident management.
Jessica Stock, the volunteer coordinator for the wardroom, said their goal is to volunteer once every quarter during the calendar year.
At the soup kitchen Tuesday, the group made more than 200 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the center’s lunch offering, chopped vegetables and stirred a pot of cheddar chicken rice soup, the main entrée for the evening meal. They also helped mix batches of ham salad and filled cookies into several bins the size of copier paper reams. When they finished at about 2 p.m., there were already 50 people waiting in line outside the center for the food they just made.
The Downtown Soup Kitchen began in Anchorage more than 30 years ago in a garage. Operating out of a little red house on 4th Avenue, the center provided nearly 300 cups of soup each day to homeless and low-income families. In addition to meals, showers and laundry, a women’s shelter and bakery job skills training are available. Approximately 450-600 cups are served daily and 142,000 meals are prepared annually.
“This might be the only hot meal with protein they get during the day,” said Vicki Martin, program and volunteer director for the soup kitchen. “They get their love and respect here that they don’t get out on the street.”
The motto of the soup kitchen, in the words of its executive director, is “Our business is to go out of business.” Until it does, members of Sector Anchorage plan to continue their support for the kitchen and will return in early 2017 to serve up hope.