New Building, Same Mission to Serve

New Building, Same Mission to Serve
December 25
00:00 2014

Samaritan Ministries settles in at new digs

Samaritan Ministries Soup Kitchen clients saw a change of scenery last week as the agency served its first meals in its new building.

The $4.1 million, 20,000-square-foot building at 414 E. Northwest Blvd. also houses an 80-bed shelter and special features like a “healing room” for sick homeless clients and computer lab. The building is adjacent to Samaritan Ministries’ longtime headquarters at  1243 Patterson Ave.DSC_0041

Executive Director Sonjia Kurosky said both the agency and the soup kitchen have come a long way.



“Today is a really remarkable day at the ministry. Samaritan Ministry soup kitchen opened up in 1981 and that first meal they served 26 people. Today, during the week, we are serving anywhere between 350 to 450 lunches,” she said.

The new soup kitchen has 96 seats, compared to 47 seats in the old dining room, and more room to store and prepare food. The new kitchen allows for more interaction between volunteers and those they serve and has flat-screen monitors for agency and community announcements.Volunteers from Wells Fargo purchased and packed the box lunches that were served during the new soup kitchen’s first week of operation.

“I heard that some people felt the dining room was sort of similar to a college cafeteria. I thought it was an interesting assessment of our new facility,” Kurosky said.

The agency has long operated a shelter, but officials are quick to point out that not everyone who eats at the soup kitchen is homeless. Many, they say, who depend on the meals are struggling on fixed incomes, unemployed, underemployed and/or disabled.

Reggie Harris falls into this broad category.

The 45-year-old father of three said that the kitchen is a good place to come enjoy a meal. He often volunteers at the agency but has taken to eating there to save a few dollars.



“If you have kids, it’s hard to make ends meet if you are trying to get ready for Christmas,” he said. “This keeps your stress level down because you don’t have to go in  your pocket and spend $5 dollars at a restaurant to eat. That’s five dollars that could go towards those Christmas gifts.”





Tonie Fryer and Judy Webster, both 51, took the bus to enjoy lunch at the new soup kitchen. Both have relied on the Samaritan in the past and wanted to celebrate the milestone.

Fryer has an apartment of her own and a job, but that hasn’t always been so.

“I’m blessed to have my own and to be able to come grab lunch while I’m running errands. When I was out here 10 years ago, this was the only place I could come to get a decent meal,” she said.

Fryer calls the agency an asset and says without it, many would resort to illegal activity to eat or simply go without.

“I see a lot of young mothers with babies come here, and it’s a blessing to see them feed their kids without going out here and doing something stupid to get (food) or worry about when their food stamps are going to come in,” she said.



Charles Amos, who is 53 and disabled, said Samaritan makes finding food one less thing he has to worry about. The agency was always there, he said, when he was homeless. He now rents a room in a boarding house. Amos, who supports himself with just a disability check, said he can’t afford an apartment of his own.

“Even if I could get an apartment for $400 a month, all the rest of my money would be gone between the lights, water and heating bill. Then I have to eat.”

He is grateful that Samaritan is around to help people like him.

“I’m not out here on drugs or trying to get on the system. I’m out here trying to help myself, and I can’t do better. It’s just me and I’m struggling,” he said.

Kurosky said the new building comes with new needs.

“We know our operating budget will increase about 20 percent, so we really need the community to rally around us at year-end giving time by sending in their donations, bringing in their coins for the penny campaign and by churches building us into their annual budget. All of those sources make a huge difference,” she said.

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Chanel Davis

Chanel Davis

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