Houston’s soup kitchen, “Love by the Bowl,” closes its doors next Wednesday due to the building sale, but organizers say they believe it’s not over yet.
Love by the Bowl opened October 2011 in what was previously an empty storefront building for sale on 9th Street.
They served soup to 20 people the day they opened, and now they serve between 75 to 100 people every week, said Donna Duzan, one of the three organizers from the local Baptist church.
They also started a Tuesday-morning quilting group about a year ago, where organizer Bobbi Edmunds and volunteers Heather Garrison and Nora Deteves teach women how to quilt, said Duzan, adding that the sewing machines and fabric is all donated.
“That’s been neat for some of the ladies who have never operated a sewing machine in their life – to be able to produce a quilt and be proud of something that they could do and accomplish,” said Duzan.
Duzan says the previous owner Doug Montaldi donated the building free of rent and utility charges for the past 19 months, but the building sold on April 29.
Now Love by the Bowl is looking for a new building to buy or lease in town, Duzan said.
She says that when they first found out the place had sold, they were disappointed but they did not feel it was the end.
“We just really believe that God gave us this vision and he’s not going to leave his people stranded. He’s going to provide something and it will be better than we had before,” she said.
“We don’t know when that’s going to be, but we just have faith that we will be able to keep it going.”
Duzan says Love by the Bowl has meant a lot to her these past 19 months.
“For me it’s been great to be able to reach into the hearts of people and hear their story and then care for them and show the love of Jesus,” she said.
“It’s not been just about providing a bowl of soup for someone, but so much more. The richest person in town could walk through our doors with the biggest hurt in his heart and we are humbled to be able to walk beside him.”
Duzan says their mission statement is simple: “Humbly we are committed to sharing Christ’s love to build relationships and foster changed lives.”
Participants and volunteers alike say they appreciate the relationship building and warm atmosphere at Love by the Bowl.
Regular volunteer Wendall Garrison says it has been a great opportunity for him to encourage others, be encouraged and develop new friendships.
“[It’s] caused me to slow down, listen and come alongside, sharing the hope I have in the Lord,” he said.
Nora Wale, regular soup kitchen participant, says it has been a place for her to enjoy herself, meet new people and visit family and friends.
“The soup kitchen helps out a lot of people that are kind of stuck,” said Wale.
Regular volunteer Ken Penner says it has been a great place to meet new people and reconnect with old friends.
Love by the Bowl thanks Doug Montaldi for his generosity in giving them free building use and thanks the many people in the community who have supported the soup kitchen in many different ways.
“I’m looking forward to the next part of this journey,” said organizer Bobbi Edmunds.
Anyone with information about a building that Love by the Bowl could buy or lease is asked to call Donna at 250-845-8256 or Bobbi at 250-845-8861.