For nearly 25 years, Ken and Allene Berman have been organizing dinners at Grace Church in White Plains. They do it because there is a need in the community. The dinners are often accompanied by live music and a donation of clothing.
“Twenty-five years ago it was probably mainly homeless, out of work people. Now it’s higher-level-income people who have become homeless or out of work. The demographics have changed,” said Berman.
To serve the guests on New Year's Day, approximately 75 to 100 people at the church and 250 meals brought to homes -- a number less than Thanksgiving and Christmas -- it takes a multitude of volunteers and organizing, along with a large amount of donations of food, clothing.
“The volunteers are from all walks of life. There are some here that are top executives that give up of their time. There are some that are, one degree higher than needing it themselves. There are religious clergy here. There are all kinds of people and some of them come back, year after year after year,” said Berman.
The services provided by the soup kitchen has impacted many lives including. “When I came home in 1986, I had no place to go. This was the first place that gave me a place to lay my head down. Ever since then in return I work for them, every holiday…working here is a privilege,” said Gregory “Tiger” Rush.
Elias, who spoke in Spanish, came with several of his friends who all work together, said it was his first time coming here but he has attended many soup kitchens in Port Chester. He frequents them every 8 to 15 days, as needed. It’s a necessity. He finds it to be a nice place a place were people are encouraging and you can make friends.
Soup kitchens will be in existence serving the community as long as the community needs them. For more information on donation or volunteering contact, Grace Church Community Center.