For the last two years, Soup Kitchen Manager Jackie Casey has been praying for a chance to remodel the Christian Ministry eating facility. This month, her prayers were answered.
Helping Hands, a local ministry started by Denver United Methodist Church but now comprised of nearly 150 members from multiple Denver-area churches, notified Casey six weeks ago that they were going to renovate the soup kitchen’s 1970s appearance, which dates to when the building was part of a Coca-Cola bottling operation.
“We are very, very grateful to them,” Casey told the Times-News.
Denver interior designer Laurie Palmieri, one of three Helping Hands co-chairs, felt compelled to transform the Lincolnton kitchen after volunteering there one afternoon.
“God put it on my heart a year ago,” she said.
Helping Hands had already been using the church ministry to not only re-decorate other county organizations but also, with the help of Amy’s House, the local battered women’s shelter, adorn and furnish the homes of clients from the nonprofit organization’s program and were in need of house supplies.
Called Furnish a Future, the particular ministry is just one of 30 different ones Helping Hands offers.
More than 30 volunteers, including a local paint specialist, worked tirelessly Friday through Sunday to scrum and paint the soup kitchen’s wood paneling and trim as well as hang seasonal artwork, Scripture verses and other framed inspirational quotes to give the room a brighter aura and art gallery-type feel.
“They’re (volunteers) feeding the body so why not feed the soul, too,” Palmieri said.
In addition, Christian Ministry spent zero dollars on the project since Helping Hands never charges for their time and work and specifically holds fundraisers during the year to raise money for their numerous projects, not to mention the numerous community donations they receive, ministry officials said. The group specifically spent $600 of their budget to modernize the soup kitchen.
“We’re trying to do it as thrifty as possible,” Palmieri said.
Helping Hands volunteer Molly Boyce could not have been more thrilled to participate on the project’s team, knowing the soup kitchen’s new look would also transform the hundreds of people who walk in and out of it each day.
“Sometimes people feel like you don’t care about them,” she said. “It’s all about the people, and that’s why we do it.”
Casey has no doubt the new look will positively impact soup kitchen clients.
“It’ll mean a lot to them,” she said. “The décor will reflect the laughter, joy and fun we have on the inside.”
Additional local organizations Helping Hands has remodeled over the last five years include Hesed House, the local homeless shelter, Lincoln County Coalition Against Child Abuse’s Child Advocacy Center, where the group decorated and supplied the facility’s children’s room, and Lincoln County Department of Social Services, where they built a shed to stock children’s items.
Midway through the first day of remodeling, Casey was already blown away by the drastic change.
“I’m amazed at how bright and clean it looks,” she said. “What this group is providing is far beyond anything I could have dreamed, and believe me, I can dream big.”
For more information on Helping Hands and a full list of the programs the ministry offers, call Denver UMC at (704) 483-1601.
The group meets 10:30 a.m. the first Monday of each month at the church.