Community

Super Suppers still serving those in need | Helpline House | Garnet Logan

More than 20 years ago a group of ladies who were members of the Interparish Council (now the Interfaith Volunteer Council) decided to host free dinners at Helpline House.

They decided that on the last five weekdays of each month they would prepare a home-cooked, nutritious meal and serve it at Helpline House for those who were “out of money and out of food.”

They organized themselves into groups, elicited volunteers, whipped up soups, casseroles, salads, breads and desserts, set up tables, and served whoever showed up. Guests were welcomed and no one was questioned about his or her needs or qualifications to share the table. Anyone could refer someone and many were Helpline House clients, often mothers and children.

Guests were appreciative and looked forward to the event. One man liked to sing songs and tell jokes to entertain the others and did so frequently. Theresa, an elderly blind lady, enjoyed this outing and looked forward to it as her big event of the month, attending faithfully for many years, escorted by a kind volunteer driver.

Terry MacDougal, a veteran desk volunteer, recalls that “the social work staff, director Joan Holcomb particularly, and some of us would stay on and eat dinner with our friends.” The numbers were few and fit into the lobby or a room, and over the years became a welcome tradition.

Around five years ago the health department hammer fell, mandating that all food not prepackaged from stores be prepared in a certified kitchen under the supervision of a licensed food handler. That spelled the end of the home-cooked meals but did not stop the dinners. A little reorganization ensued with the following schedule, which continues today on the last week of each month:

Monday – Seabold Church and Shir Hayam Temple at Eagle Harbor Congregational Church;

Tuesday – Cedars Unitarian Universalist Church and Kol Shalom Temple at Eagle Harbor Congregational Church;

Wednesday – St. Cecilia Catholic Church and Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints Church at St. Cecilia Church;

Thursday – Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church at Eagle Harbor Congregational Church;

Friday – Grace Episcopal Church and St. Barnabas Episcopal Church (on alternating months) at Eagle Harbor Congregational Church;

Interestingly enough, no one can remember whether the spelling was Souper Supper, as some say, or Super Supper, but it became a monthly tradition which is still going strong. Guests are now numbered in the high 30s or 40s and all food is prepared in the kitchens of either Eagle Harbor Congregational or Saint Cecilia.

Gone are the days of baking a cake at home and bringing it to the dinner or preparing a special dish in your own oven, but the camaraderie and pleasure that come with cooks and diners sitting down together at the Super Suppers remains today. Super is the right word!

Garnet Logan is a member of the Board of Directors of Helpline House

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