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Community steps up for lunches at City Mission

June 5, 2018 GMT

While recently describing the Huntington City Mission’s work to meet the needs of those who are homeless or at risk of being homeless, executive director Mitch Webb called it a “step of faith” with two pillars to provide support.

One is a trust in God. The other is a trust in the goodness of the Huntington community and its willingness to give.

That trust was challenged last fall through a combination of factors — budget constraints and higher demand for services, especially for the meals served at the mission. In the past couple of years, prior to ending the serving of lunch last September, demand for all meals at the mission grew by about 25 percent.

As a result, the mission’s leaders chose to reduce staff and eliminate the lunch meal that routinely was served in order to make ends meet, while keeping morning and evening meals. Serving lunches alone cost $110,000 a year to provide 200 lunches daily to people in need from the community and those staying at the mission.

But the mission’s trust has been rewarded. Starting Monday, June 4, the mission resumed serving lunches. Making it possible, besides God’s will, was the determination of mission officials and the community’s generosity.

The mission launched a “Let’s Do Lunch” fundraising program, which received a tremendous boost from a $30,000 donation from Cabell Huntington Hospital and a promise from hospital officials to match an additional $10,000 of donations from others. As of last week, about $92,000 had been raised, representing about 80 percent of what it takes to serve lunches in a year’s time. Mission officials also are working to find ways to reduce expenses for the meals it serves and to make them healthier. They have partnered with a nutritionist and started a program called Farmers for the Homeless in order to partner with local farmers who can provide fresh produce and meat.

Webb acknowledged that resuming the lunch program while still lacking a full year of funding to support it continues to be a leap of faith. But considering the progress made so far in raising funds for the lunches, taking that leap is warranted.

Now, it’s up to the Huntington community to continue showing it’s worthy of that faith. To find out more about the Huntington City Mission or to donate, visit http://huntingtoncitymission.org or call 304-523-0293. The people who rely on the mission’s services will benefit from the continued generosity.