NAPPANEE — A collaborative effort between Faith Mission of Elkhart, Chicago/Michiana Five for the Homeless of Nappanee and Nappanee Church of the Brethren is bringing a new soup kitchen to Nappanee.
John Shafer, founder of Chicago/Michiana Five for the Homeless, said he first had a vision of bringing a soup kitchen to Nappanee in the summer. He shared his vision on his Facebook page and a friend, Deb Lehman, “caught” the vision.
Lehman is a member of Nappanee Church of the Brethren and she mentioned it to her pastor, Byrl Shaver, who loved the idea. Shafer said a random act of kindness on Lehman’s part is what stirred Faith Mission’s involvement.
According to Shafer, Lehman brought cookies over to Faith Mission and ended up speaking to Director Ross Swihart about her conversation with Shafer. Swihart called John the next day and said, “You work on the place and we’ll provide the meals.”
The pastor, congregation and church board at Nappanee Church of the Brethren all thought hosting a soup kitchen would be a great way to serve the community. Right now plans are to host the soup kitchen Mondays and Thursdays every week from 5 to 6 p.m.
Originally, soup kitchen organizers were going to start serving this coming Monday, but now they are planning to start after the first of the year.
Shafer credits Lehman for making his vision a reality. “From her one act of kindness to Faith Mission, it’s moved this vision forward quickly,” he said.
“We were excited to get going,” Shaver said, “But sometimes God’s time is not our time.”
Swihart said rather than just push full steam ahead with the venture, “We want it to be successful.”
Swihart said Faith Mission has U.S. Department of Agriculture and Elkhart County Health Department requirements to abide by, so they have to make sure that when transporting the food and serving meals they maintain certain temperatures, etc.