HOME-cooked meal is open to everyone
Beginning tonight (Dec.1), local volunteers will be cooking and serving a home-cooked meal to everyone who shows up.
HOME stands for Hudson Outreach Meal for Everyone and will be served the first and third Thursday of every month in the fellowship hall of Bethel Lutheran Church from 5-6:30 p.m.
Ruth and Chuck Lewis along with Paula Bhagyam have spearheaded the effort that involves volunteers from 11 churches including St. Paul's Episcopal, First Baptist, First Presbyterian, Bethel, Faith Community, St. Patrick's, United Methodist of Hudson, Mt. Zion Lutheran, Trinity Lutheran, Harvestime and Assembly of God.
Each church agrees to provide the meal for a month as well as the volunteers to cook and serve it from Bethel's kitchen. Donations of food have already been pledged by County Market and Target, and others are expected to join in the effort.
"We heard about this being done in several communities around us. It's a big success in Baldwin where they serve up to 250 at a meal. New Richmond and River Falls have done it once a month and averaged about 150 people. We plan to serve at least that many and hopefully more," said Chuck Lewis.
The meal is open to the public and to anyone who wants to attend. "We don't care where they come from or why. It's 'no questions asked.' We just want them to feel welcome and to have a good meal," said Ruth Lewis.
Plans for HOME meals include transportation for those who need a ride including regular stops at area senior housing facilities. Anyone needing a ride should contact Ruth at (715) 425-9766 by 4 p.m. on the Tuesday prior to dinner. Among the first invited guests are several of the Habitat for Humanity families in the area. Volunteers will also provide childcare and a "kid's meal" in case the menu doesn't appeal to younger palettes.
Along with a good meal, the HOME volunteers hope that fellowship and some socializing will be a part of every evening. Their plans also include entertainment and to have things like mittens, hats and scarves on hand in case anyone is short of those winterwear items. Cash donations along with mittens, hats or other gifts are welcome.
Bhagyam is coordinating the volunteers for the meals and has been overwhelmed with the response. But there are never too many volunteers. Anyone wishing to participate can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"This is a grassroots effort that we know we need in this area," said Ruth Lewis. "We have been so gratified by the response from the ministers and their congregations. We think it will be a great success."
For more information about HOME, to volunteer or donate, call Ruth or Chuck Lewis at the number above.
Meg Heaton can be reached at email@example.com