Neighbors extend a hand to neighbors
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – There’s a place on Cooper Avenue where a home-cooked meal trumps economic status or social standing.Here, neighbors help neighbors by preparing and serving hot meals to those in need. This is the Extended Table Soup Kitchen, hosted from 5-6 p.m., Monday through Friday, at the First United Methodist Church of Glenwood Springs.”Over the years, there have been hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of volunteers, from all walks of life, to make the thing run,” said Steve Carcaterra, former LIFT-UP director.With support from his wife, Rachael, and the Glenwood Mennonite Church, Carcaterra helped start Extended Table in 1995 while heading LIFT-UP, which has offices and food pantries in Aspen, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, New Castle, Rifle and Parachute. The Carcaterras collaborated with community volunteers, churches and service organizations such as Rotary and Kiwanis eager to help the region’s hungry. In the past 14 years, Extended Table has fed thousands of people who have fallen on hard times.The success of the program is solely based on community donations and service, Carcaterra said.”It is self-run by volunteers,” he said. “That’s what really has made this thing go.”Bruce and Eileen Leland, of New Castle, are two such volunteers who have made feeding the hungry a priority in their lives. For the last four years, the couple has volunteered through their church, Good Shepherd Lutheran, which services the Extended Table every second Friday of the month. Churches and other groups, ranging from the Girl Scouts to Valley View Hospital, switch off day to day and week to week.”When we joined Good Shepherd and saw people doing it, we had to help,” Bruce said. “Eileen is also very involved in animal rescue, and volunteers for the Rifle Animal Shelter. We’ve got to take care of people, too. We were both retired, and now we have time to do both.”As captains of their crew, the Lelands always plan to cook and serve for approximately 50 people. Bruce said the crowd usually varies from 35-50 people. The current economic climate has had its effects on those needing help, Bruce said. “This year we’ve had months with 50 or 60, although it has dropped off a bit,” he said. “It was when things really tanked about 7-8 months ago, when we saw a big jump. There’s a core group who come, mostly Glenwood’s homeless, and there are others who show up every once and a while who aren’t making ends meet.”The meals are not only appreciated because they are homemade and there’s usually enough left-overs for take-home boxes, says Bruce, but they are healthy, too.”We really work hard at Good Shepherd to provide a well-balanced meal, with vegetables, salads and fruit along with the meat,” he said. “In the summer we do a lot of picnic fare, and in the winter we cook a lot of chicken and beef stew.”During Good Shepherd’s July shift on Friday, Fin’s Grille & Raw Bar graciously donated a platter of salmon for the evening’s meal. Bruce said Glenwood Springs restaurants such as Fin’s and the Haute Plate (formerly the 8th St. Deli) routinely donate prepared dishes.”We’re really just one of many, many people who put this on,” he said. “I love to cook, so getting to fix something for a very, very appreciative crowd is always fun.”Bruce said volunteer groups with availability to substitute when another group can’t make their designated days are needed.”A group with flexibility within a week in advance would be great,” he said. “Donations are always welcome, too.”To volunteer or donate to Extended Table, call LIFT-UP at 945-2005.
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