Soup Kitchen Supporters Fill Council Chambers - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Soup Kitchen Supporters Fill Council Chambers

Hurricane Katrina demolished the Gaston Hewes Recreation Center which housed the Feed My Sheep soup kitchen. But despite the destruction, the need and support for the soup kitchen is still strong.

"How many of you people are here today in support of Feed My Sheep? Would you raise your hands? My goodness alive," said soup kitchen director Joe Steinwinder, as dozens of hands went up.

Supporters filled the council chambers, sharing a message that the ministry matters. Steinwinder told council members the kitchen served nearly 16,000 meals the month before Katrina hit.

"What a gift and a blessing this program is to our community. Wow. I cannot believe it myself," Steinwinder told council members.

Feed My Sheep leaders want to know the city's plans for rebuilding the Gaston Hewes Center. The son of the building's namesake added his support to the call for rebuilding.

"It has been a wonderful testament to the memory of my father, who had spent his entire life laboring in the vineyards of helping the youth of our city, from all walks of life, many of whom are underprivileged," said Judge Gaston Hewes.

City council members made no specific promise to rebuild on the same site. But the council president did call for action.

Barbara Nalley told the group, "I have a strong conviction in this area. And we need to go to the table and get you a facility. And we need to do that as quickly as we possibly can."

The mayor suggested a possible separate facility to house Feed My Sheep and another area ministry that wants to rebound from Katrina.

"There's an opportunity for us here to create stand alone facilities that serve their purposes entirely, where they're not having to share facilities," said Mayor Brent Warr.

City leaders promised a meeting later this week to discuss the future of Feed My Sheep.

There's talk of Feed My Sheep sharing facilties with Coast Community Ministries. That outreach ministry of First Baptist Church Gulfport wants to provide a medical clinic, food pantry, legal services and mental health counseling for those in need.

By Steve Phillips

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