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Calvary Soup Kitchen will feed homeless in neighborhood

By Mary Stamp

Calvary Baptist Church’s parsonage at 207 E. Third Ave, has opened as Calvary’s Soup Kitchen, serving its first meal on Dec. 1.

Calvary Soup Kitchen
Peggie Troutt and the Rev. Chet Andrews show the many food supplies they will use at Calvary Soup Kitchen.

The church’s Women’s Ministry will cook meals in the church kitchen and serve them in the house next door from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., on Saturdays.

Peggie Troutt, president of the Women’s Ministry, visited with Bernard Jones, who runs the Store House food, clothing and necessities bank and repairs bikes in the house. 

Talking about the hungry and homeless people who slept outside the church and around the neighborhood, they realized the people had no way to cook the food they received.

So Peggie suggested opening a soup kitchen on the main floor of the house and continuing the Store House and bike ministry in the basement.

She called Doris Andrews, wife of the pastor and vice president of the Women’s Ministry, to share her idea.

“I began explaining my idea, and she became quiet.  Then she told me it was the pastor’s vision, too,” said Peggie, encouraged to learn the pastor had had the same vision a few years ago.

The Rev. C. W. (Chet) Andrews, who has served Calvary Baptist for 30 years, had that vision 16 years ago.

“I always tell people that what I want for Spokane is to feed the hungry and clothe the naked,” Chet said.  “When I heard Peggie wanted to start a soup kitchen, I said, ‘Praise the Lord that it will come to fruition.’  I believe it is what God wants us to do.”

Then, he said, he began to “push” her, meaning, “pray until something happens.”  Chet said he encourages people to act to bring their ideas to fruition.

Calvary Soup Kitchen
Calvary Soup Kitchen preparations

About 20 years ago, it became the Store House, first in the basement and then spilling upstairs 10 years ago, when Morningstar Baptist closed its clothing bank and gave them the clothes.  Then Bernard began fixing bikes to give away to people who needed transportation.  The upstairs has also been used as a nursery, so there are colorful paintings of people and animals on the walls.

Peggie began calling churches in Western Washington and local churches, such as Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, which has a breakfast program Sunday mornings.  With guidance from them, she also plans to visit the House of Charity, Union Gospel Mission and the Women’s and Children’s Free Restaurant to gain ideas on  how to run the soup kitchen smoothly.

She proposed the idea at a church meeting, presenting what the Women’s Ministry thought was needed before continuing with the planning phase. 

She applied a donation of $180 from Washington State Order of the Eastern Star to applications for food handlers’ permits for those who will cook the food in the church’s licensed kitchen.

In two weeks, they were ready to begin renovating the house so it would be ready and inviting.  Peggie and others made a list of what needed to be done, and members came by to do the tasks—painting, repairing cupboards, laying new vinyl in the kitchen, removing carpet in the living and dining rooms, varnishing and polishing the wood floors under it, doing minor repairs and filling the cupboards with food to cook.

With no budget, the organizers have walked in faith.  After one TV interview, people came by the church and gave donations.  The Curves exercise center at 164 S. Washington asked members to donate non-perishable foods and to help serve.

“It blew my mind how generous people are,” Chet said.  “We have not had to tap the church budget.  Food and money donations are coming in, supplying what we need.”

In December, they began serving a midday meal so the cooks and servers can go home when it is still daylight.

Peggie is praying for there to be one or two cooks each time, and three servers.  The cooked food will be transported from the church kitchen to the parsonage where it will be served.  They expect to offer spaghetti, casseroles, sandwiches and salads, as well as soup.

With 45 to 50 people coming in at one time and sitting down to eat, they expect to serve more than 100 in the two hours, using paper plates to make cleanup easy.

Over the years, the church has fluctuated from 125 to 250 members as people come and go with at Fairchild Air Force Base.  

Among those coming with the Air Force were Peggie and her husband, James.  Peggie, who grew up in Washington, D.C., married after high school and moved around the country and overseas with Air Force assignments.

When they first came to Spokane in 1983, aside from working all day, she did community work and studied human resources at Gonzaga University.  In 2005, she retired after 36 years of working as executive secretary for five commanders at Fairchild.  A month after retirement, she started as a substitute instructional assistant and secretary for Spokane Public Schools. 

“I like organizing and making something happen to do good,” she said.

Like other shelters and food programs, Chet said, Calvary’s Soup Kitchen will have “do’s and don’ts,” expectations that people who come will abide by basic rules—not coming intoxicated or using bad language—to maintain a respectful place where people can eat and visit.

“All I do, I do in faith.  I pray, and things happen,” said Peggie.  “At Fairchild, I prayed for a multicultural fair.  We started one and 300 people came.  Over the years, it grew to draw 5,000.

“The Women’s Ministry flourishes.  We pray and God guides us,” she said.

The Women’s Ministry also does small projects like collecting toiletries to give to women’s shelters.

“We pray and things happen,” she repeated. “I know the Holy Spirit is guiding us, because everything falls into place after earnest prayer.  I continually pray that God will send willing workers with a passion to serve the community.  Without that passion, people’s support would fizzle.”

Calvary is announcing the program at other shelters and places serving homeless and hungry people.  They expect word to spread quickly.

The Store House is still in operation and will respond when people come and knock on the door.  On days the Soup Kitchen is not open, the Store House will continue to operate, with Bernard answering the door. 

For information, call 747-8793.


Copyright © December 2009 - The Fig Tree