Soups On Us gets boost from Hudson-Ellis grant

Published 7:33 pm Friday, September 27, 2019

Editor’s note: This month, Blue Grass Community Foundation, funded by the Hudson-Ellis Competitive Grantmaking Program awarded $101,000 in grants to 16 charitable organizations for projects that will improve the quality of life for children and adults in Boyle County. More organizations that were also grant recipients will be featured in future stories

The community feeding program Soups On Us has received a $10,000 Hudson-Ellis Grant. This is the first time Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church has been awarded such a substantial grant on behalf of the SOU service program it began 19 years ago.

Other churches that also now participate include First Christian, Lexington Avenue Baptist and the Presbyterian Church.

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The money will be evenly divided between the churches for them to run the SOU monthly program.

Each church prepares and delivers a total of about 400, two-meal, to 300 households within a five-mile radius of downtown Danville on the first four Saturdays of every month, according to Debbie Thurnell, who helps run the Ss. Peter and Paul’s SOU. The weekend food delivery helps “bridge the gap of food scarcity over weekends” for disadvantaged or disabled seniors, adults and families, Thurnell said. That’s a total of about 1,600 meals being delivered every month.

“There are a lot of poor people who are hungry in this community,” she said.

Many of the people served by SOU have been referred by other agencies, such as Meals on Wheels, the Food Pantry, Family Services and the Senior Citizens Center, which don’t provide meals on the weekends, Thurnell said.

“This is not just a church ministry, it’s a community service.” she said.

The Soups On Us program has evolved into a service that other agencies depend upon, Thurnell said. It is solely supported by the four churches’ service offerings of about $60,000 annually, Thurnell explained. And since SOU uses up most of these funds, the churches have little money left over to spend on other ministry service projects — which often benefit the same disadvantaged or disabled people who rely on SOU, Thurnell said.

“These other ministries are underfunded,” she said.

The grant “helps alleviate the burden off of our churches. … It takes a little bit off the expenditures they put into” the SOU, said Don Staub who has worked with the SOU service since it began.

The $10,000 grant will fund about two months worth of meals and allow the churches to use more of their offerings for other community concerns “other than or in addition to food,” according to SOU’s grant application.

Each church plans its own menu, purchases the ingredients, prepares the lunches and delivers the meals on its designated Saturday. There are seven routes and volunteers drive their own vehicles to deliver the meals, Thurnell said. Depending on the number of volunteers, the boxed lunches are delivered between 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. every Saturday — except in the months that have a fifth Saturday, Thurnell said. There aren’t enough churches or money available to expand the feeding program to cover the fifth Saturday in any given month, she added. However, they would welcome another organization to step in and be responsible for the fifth Saturday throughout the year, Thurnell said.

Even though cooking, assembling and delivering meals begins early Saturday mornings, lots of people are always needed “to make Saturday happen,” she said.

“It’s a process to get food, space, ordering and the database updated. … It takes a lot of orchestration” during the week, Thurnell said.

She doesn’t know how the other three churches organize their meals, but Ss. Peter and Paul sets up on Friday night — commercial-sized pots and cookers are set out; cans of ingredients are lined up; fruit cups and cookies are taken out of their boxes and everything is set out on assembly tables.

About 6:30 on Saturday morning, volunteers start cooking homemade chili and potato soups and sandwiches are made. “We stick with what we know,” Thurnell said.

“Optimally, it takes about 25 people,” to get the meals out the door.

Brian Calvert, who volunteers with the First Christian Church SOU said, “We impact the community in a way that all of our church members can get involved in — sometimes in ways they may never have thought of before. … It’s another level of outreach,” where members can be as involved as they want to be.

When representatives from each church met to receive the grant Thursday afternoon, they all agreed that more volunteers were needed to keep the program running smoothly. And they don’t have to be members of the participating church. People and students of all ages are welcome to help out, the group said.

Calvert said, “There’s something for everybody to do.”

Hudson-Ellis grants,scholarships

This month, Blue Grass Community Foundation awarded $101,000 in grants to 16 charitable organizations for projects that will improve the quality of life for children and adults in Boyle County. Organizations serving Boyle County applied for funding through the Hudson-Ellis Competitive Grantmaking Program, which is made possible by the generosity of Lottie B. Ellis whose bequest established endowments at Blue Grass Community Foundation.

A lifelong Danville resident, Ellis had a passion for Boyle County which led her to establish a legacy gift when she passed away in 1999. In accordance with Ellis’ wishes, Blue Grass Community Foundation established two permanent endowment funds: The Hudson-Ellis Discretionary Fund and the Hudson-Ellis scholarship fund. To date, the Hudson-Ellis Discretionary Fund has made 200 grants to local nonprofit organizations totaling more than $1.4 million and the Scholarship Fund has awarded scholarships to 60 students totaling $350,000.

John F. Joyner and Lena H. Joyner shared Ellis’ vision and their legacy endowment has helped fund the competitive grant program with more than $30,000 in grants to Boyle County nonprofits.

The 2019 Hudson-Ellis Scholarship award recipients are:

• Chelsea Adkins — Boyle County High School

• Rachel Matherly — Danville High School

• Sulmi Yamileth Gomez Vasquez — Kentucky School for the Deaf

The 2019 Hudson-Ellis Discretionary Grant Recipients are:

• Art Center of the Bluegrass, to support an arts program for adults with dementia and their caregivers.

• Arts Commission of Danville-Boyle County, to support the Youth Art Fair and expanded programming for participants with special needs.

• Boyle County Education Foundation, to provide scholarships for pre-school students.

• Camp Horsin’ Around, to support specialized horse riding equipment for special needs riders.

• CASA of the Bluegrass, to support child victim advocacy volunteer training.

• Danville Schools Education Foundation, to support Hogsett Primary School in creating indoor and outdoor arts experiences for all of the districts’ preschool and first grade students.

• Danville/Boyle County Early Childhood Alliance, to support the development and implementation of a community action plan to improve kindergarten readiness for all children in Boyle County.

• Danville/Boyle County Happy Feet Equals Learning Feet, to purchase new shoes and socks for underprivileged children in Boyle County.

• Danville-Boyle County Senior Citizens, to help support free transportation provided to Boyle County Senior Citizens for activities of daily living, such as doctor appointments, trips to the pharmacy, etc.

• Family Services Association of Boyle County, for emergency housing assistance for residents of Boyle County.

• Heart of Kentucky United Way, to support 16-session curriculum that helps individuals in poverty build their resources for a more prosperous life.

• Kentucky School for the Deaf Charitable Foundation, to purchase a one-year subscription to Junior Library League, which will add 325 new books to the library.

• New Hope Food Pantry, to purchase food that is distributed free to Boyle County residents who are in need.

• Special Persons Advocacy Network (SPAN), to support Camp Hope 2020

• Wilderness Trace Child Development Center, to support updates to major playground equipment for more inclusive model for children ages 2 to 5 with varying abilities.