August 25, 2012

Friends save Waterville's Sacred Heart Soup Kitchen

By Amy Calder
Staff Writer

WATERVILLE -- Donations for Sacred Heart Soup Kitchen continued to roll in on Friday, prompting director Dick Willette to announce that it will be able to stay open for well over another year.

click image to enlarge

SERVING OTHERS: Patricia Stewart and other volunteers serve lunch at the Sacred Heart Soup Kitchen in Waterville on Monday.

Staff photo by David Leaming

click image to enlarge

PRAYER FOR HELP: Dick Willette leads a prayer for patrons during lunch at the Sacred Heart Soup Kitchen in Waterville on Monday. Willette said the organization is in danger of closing soon unless additional funding is found.

Staff photo by David Leaming

"I feel I have enough here, with people calling in and promising money they're going to send every month, to be open until next December," Willette, 79, said.

Since Willette announced on Monday that he would have to close the kitchen in the coming weeks because of lack of consistent funding, people have offered help.

Willette was sad and weary Monday, but by Friday morning was upbeat and hopeful.

"I've picked up pretty good," he said. "I really have. I feel good."

He said he hated to solicit the public's help to keep the kitchen open, but he had no alternative.

"I'm glad that it happened," he said. "God took care of us. Any donations that we get now will be the frosting on the cake. We're not going to have a lobster and hot butter party, but ..."

The kitchen, in the basement of Sacred Heart Catholic Church on Pleasant Street, has been open 32 years, but donations have plummeted during the recent hard times, he said.

Willette said some businesses are also planning fundraisers for the soup kitchen.

Terry and Brenda Washburn, owners of T&B Celebration Center, will host an event at their Jefferson Street business Sept. 8. Three bands, including Worthy Bones, will perform and donations will go to the soup kitchen, according to Terry Washburn.

Willette said the bands will play from 2 to 8 p.m.

He said the Washburns are excited. "It's going to be quite a thing."

Soup kitchen volunteers are collecting prizes from area businesses to be given away in a drawing at the event, he added.

Darling's Auto Group, based in Brewer, also will raise money for the soup kitchen Friday with its Ice Cream for a Cause truck.

The truck will be parked in Waterville from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at a place to be determined, with Mayor Karen Heck giving away free ice cream and accepting donations for the soup kitchen, according to Bob Dennis, who coordinates charity fundraisers for the truck.

Dennis said he will also park the truck from 4-7 p.m. at the Waterville Elks Lodge on Industrial Road and will give away free ice cream there, with all donations going to the soup kitchen.

He said he is still negotiating with city officials on a place to park the truck for Heck's appearance.

Dennis said Darling's owner John Darling launched the truck effort in July and supplies the truck, ice cream, labor and fuel to raise money for charities around the state. Anyone needing to raise money for a worthy cause may go to, Dennis said.

Rather than sell ice cream like typical ice cream trucks operators do, Dennis gives it away and people may donate money if they want to, but they don't have to, he said.

Amy Calder -- 861-9247

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