December 31 2014 – Robert Fiumara
In Northwest Arkansas, a transitional living facility for homeless men is looking to raise funds to build a new kitchen and dining hall. Souls Harbor provides long-term shelter, food, clothing, and employment opportunities – all free of charge – to assist around twenty men at a time. Their aim is to raise about $30k in thirty days to build a commercial kitchen, dining, and classroom space. They are also taking contributions in the form of outfitting their kitchen space, laundry facility, and dining hall with equipment and furnishings.
Already, Souls Harbor has an urban garden and greenhouse on the premises. The kitchen has been tentatively named The Mustard Seed and Executive Director Joel Atchison says they hope to complete the project for less than $100k, thanks to contributions and donated materials from local business partners. Their current kitchen is more than 100 years old and suffering from disrepair. Not only will The Mustard Seed serve as the space to cook and eat meals but it will also be used as a teaching space, valuable to the residents who are attempting to get back on their feet.
One resident, John Lee, who has a culinary degree from Las Vegas, is looking forward to getting back into the kitchen and practicing his skills and teaching other residents. Atchison is hopeful that community members will come to the facility to participate, prepare meals, share recipes, and hang out with residents and staff. Bringing camaraderie and understanding between residents and community members is helpful for everyone, says Atchison. Construction by a volunteer team will begin by the end of December and the project is expected to be complete by the end of January 2015.
All Souls is staffed entirely of former residents who have displayed phenomenal leadership skills and completed the All Souls program. The current Executive Director lives on campus among the residents and helps the house run smoothly while supervising meals, chores, and weekly house meetings. All Souls offers employment opportunities for their residents by cooperating with local businesses that hire residents through the program. The All Souls urban farm grows fresh fruit, vegetables, and flowers, raises chickens, and even keeps their own bees to provide fresh honey.
To learn more about All Souls program, visit: www.soulsharbornwa.org
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