by Karen Gleason
COMMUNITY MEMBERS ARE welcome at the Lewiston Corps’ soup kitchen.
Optimism is in the air at The Salvation Army in Lewiston, Idaho. The Northwest Division’s Lewiston Corps is evaluating the harvest, and excited about the future. After a period of time with interim officers, the corps welcomed permanent officers last August, Captains Donald and Cheryl Warriner.
According to Captain Donald Warriner, “corps council members are happy that the corps now has stability. We are looking forward to the future, and are ready to set goals and to grow.” Currently about 30-35 people attend the weekly services.
The corps serves a unique community of around 50,000 in the Northwest’s Lewis-Clark Valley, including Lewiston and the nearby towns of Clarkston and Asotin, Wash. Lewiston is a mill town, and life in this rural setting is slow-paced. People are friendly, supportive of the community, and go out of their way to support worthy causes. They are very supportive of The Salvation Army.
Although unemployment is relatively low, fluctuating around 4%, the area does not offer many high-paying jobs. Many residents are part of the working poor, not earning a livable wage.
“To help the community,” say the Warriners, “our premier program is our soup kitchen, now in its seventh year. By serving a hot meal every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the program helps the area’s poor by providing three meals a week.”
Receiving no government funding, the soup kitchen is totally supported by donations from the community. “About 20 volunteer groups do all the work,” says Warriner, “they cook, serve and clean up. The Lewiston Rotary Club helps, as do many area churches.” Young people required by law to perform community service often complete part of their requirement at the soup kitchen.
The corps serves over 700 meals a month, with about 30-50 served at each sitting. At these family-style meals, grace is said and the atmosphere is welcoming. The Warriners circulate among the guests, getting to know them and their concerns and problems. They encourage the families to visit other corps programs. Recently two such families started attending corps services.
Warriner expects the corps to experience growth because it meets both the social and the spiritual needs of the people served. “All who come for social needs are invited to church programs,” state the Warriners. “Recently a mother with her two children came for help, and that evening we were able to pick up the woman’s two daughters and bring them to Sunbeams.”
With its positive approach in the present, the Lewiston Corps is building a strong future, rooted in God’s kingdom. As Warriner says, “We don’t neglect the spiritual part of the people we serve.”