VERNON - The door is once again open at Vernon’s Upper Room Mission.
The soup kitchen served lunch in its dining hall for the first time in two months today, Jan. 26, and communications manager Lisa Anderson says it’s good to be home.
“This is where our clients feel most comfortable coming in out of the elements and having their meals,” Anderson says.
The facility shut down Dec. 2 after a pipe burst and set off the sprinkler system. The damage was extensive; floors were ruined, food donations contaminated, and appliances destroyed. But it didn’t stop the Mission from carrying on. With the community’s help, meals were temporarily offered in the parking lot, then in the People Place, located next to the Mission.
“We had different businesses, families coming up and giving us meals,” Anderson says. “We had new businesses coming in that had never stepped into the Mission before. So for them to come in and see what we do, it was a great experience.”
The kitchen reopened around Christmas, but the dining room still wasn’t ready. Meals were prepared at the Mission, but served at the People Place. Anderson says the disruption had a big impact on some of the clients.
“We lost some of the faces that usually come into the Mission, just because we’re dealing with issues of mental health and they need familiarity. So going over there, it’s a new space, it’s cramped quarters, it’s just not a comfortable situation. For us to be back into our main building is very important.”
Guests will notice new floors, fresh paint, and a brighter interior following the repairs.
“It looks the same, it just has fresh everything,” Anderson says.
By noon, clients were lined up outside the soup kitchen, jackets pulled tight against the cold January air. Michael Evans says he used to volunteer at the Mission and wishes he could do more to help people. Right now though, he’s the one in need.
“You want the real truth? I’m an alcoholic, I’m a drug addict, you name it. I’m all the way down the line…. But we need places like this where us street people can get a hug. They (volunteers) are top of the line.”
Another man waiting outside the Mission’s doors says through his ups and downs, the Mission has always been there.
“When I need help they’re here, and I need help today. I’m hungry, my stomach’s growling,” Tony Caldwell says.
As the Mission gets back on its feet, both food and cash donations are greatly appreciated. Food and monetary donations (preferred so kitchen staff can better plan meals) can be dropped off at the Upper Room Mission on 27 Avenue or made online.
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