Lighthouse Soup Kitchen Provides Beacon of Hope in Randolph County
Just as traditional lighthouses guided ships into port, the Lighthouse Soup Kitchen in Roanoke seeks to be a beacon of hope by providing a hot meal every Thursday night.
The Lighthouse is supported by 16 teams from churches in Randolph County. Each team takes turns operating the soup kitchen for the 150 to 200 people who visit each week.
Linda Hurst, director of The Lighthouse, recalls the soup kitchen’s origins in late 2009. Newly retired and with additional time on her hands, Hurst decided to use her organizational and administrative gifts to help realize First United Methodist Church’s dream of opening a soup kitchen in Roanoke. She proudly recounted that formal planning for The Lighthouse began in January 2010, and the kitchen was open for its first meal on April 15.
Since its inception in 2010, The Lighthouse has expanded both its role and service area. In August 2011, The Lighthouse opened a location in Wedowee that is supported by 12 teams and serves 150 to 200 people every week.
In April 2012, The Lighthouse implemented ‘The Buddy Bag Program’ at Knight Enloe Elementary School. The program, which has since expanded to Wadley Elementary School and Rock Mills Elementary School, provides nutritious food to children from pre-kindergarten through third grade on the weekends.
When asked about the importance of the Lighthouse and of community initiatives in general, Hurst said she considered her work at The Lighthouse to be part of her religious and civic duty. “The Lighthouse is important because there’s hungry, needy people out there, and the Lord said to feed His children,” she said.
Hurst added, “If John Doe comes in here and says he’s hungry, it doesn’t matter who he is, we’ll feed him.” She referenced the Bible verse inscribed on Lighthouse t-shirts, Matthew 25:35: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.”
Hurst said that her favorite part of The Lighthouse was the people, those she works alongside and those who she serves, because “working together to accomplish something is so important.”
Not complacent with their current success, Hurst said her ideas for the future include expanding The Lighthouse into additional days and other parts of Randolph County. She’d also like to create a website so that she could connect with other community soup kitchens across the country to give and receive suggestions, ideas, and support.
Summing up her involvement with The Lighthouse, Hurst said, “The more you put out there, the more you can see people getting connected and helping each other.” That, she said, is when a community is at its best.