The Kitchen celebrates 40 years of serving the homeless

A nonprofit in Springfield is celebrating 40 years of service.
Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 4:38 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - A nonprofit in Springfield is celebrating 40 years of service.

Sister Lorraine Biebel started Serving the hungry through The Kitchen in 1983. The organization now serves the unhoused community with emergency shelters, temporary housing, and veterans services.

The Kitchen serves the unhoused community but does much more than just provide meals. This organization serves hundreds of people annually with shelter, health care services, and education programs to help the unhoused community find a place to call home. Over the years, The Kitchen has faced many challenges and triumphs but credits community support for assisting them to further its mission and continue serving.

“We rely so much on the community support as well,” said CEO Meleah Spencer. “So that’s, you know, that’s always in the back of your mind and a worry that. Will we have enough community support to keep on helping our neighbors in need? Some of the highs have been, man, this entire campus, the O’Reilly family campus that we started, and that was in November of 2018, we first built our emergency shelter. And then, in November 2020, we opened our Hamra Family Support Services Building, and that’s big guys.”

Rare Breed Center for homeless and high-risk youth, Home at Last, Affordable Housing Developments, Emergency Shelters, and community housing are all part of the Kitchen organization. Through these programs, the homeless find hope and can take steps toward a sustainable life.

Sister Lorraine Biebel took $50 and began serving meals to the homeless. That first meal was held in the St. Agnes School cafeteria with 39 diners. Sister Lorraine and other volunteers fed more than 200 people in less than two months. Over 40 years, others have carried on her legacy and served more than 600 people yearly.

“I know that sister’s looking down and really happy for the success and growth that really she started all those years ago,” said Spencer.

Now you may be thinking, what’s next for The Kitchen? The organization just received a $2.5 million grant to build additional temporary housing units. The Kitchen will celebrate its 40th birthday on Monday, March 27, from 10 a.m. - noon with an open house and anniversary ribbon-cutting Ceremony at The O’Reilly Family Campus; it is located at 730 N Glenstone Ave.

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