Mother Nature does not always cooperate, even when good deeds are involved. The partly sunny forecast for Saturday, December 12, 2020 was off by a few hours as rain came instead that morning.
Luca D’Alerta, Boy Scout Troop 457, is working to attain Eagle Scout. The almost forty volunteers he assembled to help with his plan to repaint and perform other tasks at the Homestead Soup Kitchen did fortunately include inside work. Although they were able to do some plantings, finishing the outside mural was going to have to wait for another day. Undaunted, painting the interior walls was well underway as was creation of an “information wall” to serve as a communication center to post different items.
With this being his ninth year in Boy Scouts, sixteen-year-old D’Alerta developed the project in concert with Karen Browning, Soup Kitchen Volunteer Coordinator and board Member. “My friend Michael had done an Eagle Scout project with them before,” he explained. As much as the painting and other are appreciated, a major element is the CONEX container that will be delivered and set onto a concrete pad after final permitting paperwork is completed.
“I don’t know how he came up with a container, but it’s something we really need,” Browning said. Most of their funds are expended for food and other necessary supplies, so being able to care for the facility goes lacking without extra assistance. The project prior to D’Alerta’s was when Michael Clark came up with his plan that included much needed exterior concrete pads as one of the improvements.
Both Scouts’ fathers were on hand Saturday as well. Edward (Ted) Clark has been working with the Troop since 2010 and Michael is his third son. “We love what they do here [Homestead Soup Kitchen] and when he started looking for a project, I suggested something here.”
Gianni D’Alerta agrees with the value of scouting. “I wasn’t a leader when we started in the Scouts.
I took on a role later and it’s an amazing experience. It’s taught me leadership skills with the boys and the parents. I’ve seen the growth in Luca, in his abilities to lead and communicate. It helps prepare him for life, too.”
There was plenty of leadership and communication as the teams adjusted to the rain in order to complete the inside work.
“We’re all volunteers here, and I’m so grateful for what the community does,” Browning said. “We’ve had a big increase in need with the COVID situation. We’re up to around 200 people every day we serve.”
The Homestead Soup Kitchen was opened in 1983. “It is the mission of the Homestead Soup Kitchen to serve those members of our community in need of a hot meal, regardless of circumstances. By having a “no questions asked” policy, the Soup Kitchen provides in excess of 700 meals a week to individuals and families of the Greater Homestead/Florida City area and beyond.”
A significant financial impact aside from increased feeding is the use of to-go products due to COVID-19 safety requirements. Plastic cups, flatware, and carry-out containers add to the operational costs and are among items that can be donated.
Lack of a walk-in cooler also hampers operations and there are often repairs or replacements required for the different appliances. Once the CONEX container is installed, they’ll need to have it outfitted with shelving.
For more information about donating or volunteering, there is a contact form on the website of http://www.homesteadsoupkitchen.com and the mailing address is Homestead Soup Kitchen, P.O. Box 901180, Homestead Florida, 33090-1180; Tel: (305) 245-7448.