Soup kitchen provides food, friends

The three women sit side-by-side at the same table twice a week enjoying bowls of homemade soup sprinkled with companionship. Today they are discussing gardening and their volunteer activities; across the table three men talk politics.

The soup is being served up at a free soup kitchen at the Langley Christian and Missionary Alliance Church. The program is one year old this month. Marge Morey of Langley has been coming since the kitchen opened and is often joined by friends Edith Goetz and Connie Hedlund.

“We enjoy each other’s company and seeing the other people who come here, people of all ages and walks of life,” she said.

At another table two men discuss current events and the merits of chicken verses tomato soup. One of the pair, Mark Douglas, said the meals help augment his food budget.

His companion, Doug Calder, said he has been out of work for awhile.

“This is not a necessity, but it does make things a little easier,” Calder said.

In the far corner of the large basement room that serves as the soup kitchen, two mothers sit hunched over paint chips for a home building project, while their 3- and 5-year-old sons tumble on the floor nearby.

“We love it here,” Angie Heinemann said.

Both mothers say they cannot afford to go out to a restaurant for lunch.

“We can still get together once in awhile and our children love it because they can run around and play with each other,” said soup diner Christine Parker.

All these people are regulars at the soup kitchen, which is put on by the church twice a week. They prove the soup kitchen does more than provide sustenance for the body: It offers a gathering place for companionship to 200 people who meet over a meal every Tuesday and Thursday.

The soup kitchen was inspired by CMA church members Sharon Giberson and Connie Angst. They wanted to help those less fortunate, so they started recruiting volunteers to make and serve soup. Today, 22 volunteers staff the project there is a different chef on each of the two days. Local businesses donate bread and, according to Angst “With the donations of food and money we receive, the kitchen is self-supporting.”

Angst said that when they first opened, they had no idea what to expect.

“We didn’t know if two people would show up or 20,” Angst said.

In fact, for the first several months only about 25 people came each day. Now the kitchen serves at least 200 people a week.

Angst said the goal was to feed homeless people.

“We didn’t know how many there were and even if they would come in,” she said.

Angst said the homeless people do come. This year a number of young people are starting to show up.

No questions are asked and everyone is welcomed by the volunteer staff. A small basket rests on the kitchen serving counter for donations for those who wish to contribute.

Soup kitchen sign questioned

The Soup Kitchen sign does not meet Langley’s ordinance against sandwich- style signs. The colorful sandwich board situated in the rear of the Langley Christian and Missionary Alliance Church (CMA) has directed people to the Soup Kitchen which opened in April 2003. The sign rests on church property a the edge of its parking lot on Camano and 6th Streets.

But both the city and church officials hope something can be worked out.

“We want people to be able to find us,” said Bob Welch, pastor at the CMA Church.

“But we also want to comply with the law.”

Langley’s retail sign rules ban the use of sandwich boards on sidewalks in front of businesses.

Langley’s city planner Pete Friedman said the city will be meeting with the Rev. Welch to try and work something out.

“We will be examining the issue with church officials” Friedman said.

CMA volunteer effort celebrates first anniversary

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