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Gospel Mission making it their mission to fill needs of community

By JIM SALMELA
DCN Reporter

Walking into the Union Gospel Mission, you’ll see a receptionist desk to the left with a couple offices behind it, a few chairs set up on the right and a table full of clothing for anybody to take. The limit is three items of clothing and six pairs of underwear and socks for each person.

At 11:50 a.m., inside the hall are about 15 people waiting for lunch to start. A rope blocks the entrance to the small cafeteria. There are a few people browsing through the clothes on the table, others are sitting down talking to one another, while one man is being escorted out for drunkenness.

The cafeteria is set up with 12 round tables going in a 3x4 dimension as you walk in. As you look to the right, you’ll see boxes full of books and novels, a big-screen TV tucked in the corner, and a piano used for Sunday services. To the left, is a table with bags of recently expired hamburger and hot dog buns and bread.

The meal for the day is ham and cheese hot dish with broccoli and cauliflower. The cook for the lunch, Terry Caddell, scoops the hot dish onto a tray, while another employee scoops the broccoli and cauliflower and places silverware wrapped in a napkin. They have their choice of orange juice, milk, or coffee to drink; there are donuts, sweet rolls, muffins and cookies for dessert.

“We’re not a soup kitchen, we’re a full-meal deal,? said Sharen Bergren, the office manager at the Mission. “Our meals usually consist of meat, potatoes, gravy, vegetables, fruit, and juice or milk. We pride ourselves on the fact that we serve a good, wholesome meal.?

Volunteers come from many different places, but primarily from local churches. For dinner, a group from Grace Baptist Church comes in to help . The group, which ranges from high school to middle-aged adults, comes in at 4:30 p.m. They go back and forth from the kitchen window to pick up a tray, to a table full waiting for a meal. The volunteers get to know those they serve.

“Just interacting with the people, being with them and talking with them, they’re very interesting people,? said Travis Kahlstorf, who has volunteered at the Mission through Grace Baptist Church for the past 11 years.

After dinner is served, the volunteers sweep, mop, clean off tables, and stack the chairs as they prepare to close the building for the night, ready for another day.