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Louisville’s outreach to the homeless during the holiday season

Louisville+volunteers+serve+food+during+the+winter+months.+Photo+courtesy+of+Franciscan+Kitchen.+
Louisville volunteers serve food during the winter months. Photo courtesy of Franciscan Kitchen.

Homelessness in Louisville is a complex problem that continues to grow every month of the year. During the winter season, however, which is centered around spending time with family, homelessness can become more visible. This is especially true during the season of giving, when an outpouring of local resources increases. Fransiscan Kitchen and the Boys and Girls Haven are two Louisville charitable organizations that  provide care and resources for those in need year round. During the holidays, though, they have specific services available that benefit the homeless.

Franciscan Kitchen is a Louisville-based organization founded in 1980, and located on 748 S Preston Street. Dedicated to providing nourishing food for the homeless and less fortunate members of the community, Fransiscan Kitchen serves anywhere from 600 to 800 people every day.

Chuck Mattingly is Fransciscan Kitchen’s Executive Director. He began volunteering with the organization in 2007, and took over the Executive Director position in 2010. In the 16 years Mattingly has worked with Fransiscan Kitchen, he has seen a huge increase in the outreach of the organization. When he began working, they served 300-400 people a day, and now those numbers have nearly doubled.

“It’s run by a very small staff,” Mattingly said. “There’s only four or five of us that are paid employees, but there’s upwards of 30 volunteers that come in and prepare meal service and do some cleanup. Without those people, the organization could not succeed.”

“It’s one of those places where you come in and you see the good that’s being done, and it’s kind of hard not to come back and do it again,” Mattingly said. During the holiday season, Fransciscan Kitchen hosts drives for coats and canned goods, which they hand out on Christmas, along with other essentials. They also collect items including mens or women’s socks and underwear, toiletries, blankets, and groceries.

“We have so many people coming together from whatever background or religion that they are, and they come there with one mission in mind, and that is to feed those in need. And it’s just a miracle that it works so well, each and every day you can bring 30 people together from different backgrounds and they all work together to do this, so it’s just ‘a miracle on Preston’ is what we call it,” Mattingly said.

Another organization working to help the homeless in Louisville is Boys and Girls Haven, located at 2301 Goldsmith Lane. They are a full-service foster care organization that has been working to strengthen and support children, young adults and families, since 1948.

Through six different programs, Boys and Girls Haven provides care and resources for the children they assist. Their biggest program is the Residential Program, where children and young adults live on their campus as a safe place for them to receive therapy and go to school. 

“It’s typically not their final placement,” Nick Brewer, the Marketing and Design Manager for Boys and Girls Haven, said. “It’s kind of a stepping stone within the foster care system, looking to place them with different families or different programs that best suit their needs.”

Every year, Boys and Girls Haven hosts a holiday gift drive, organized by volunteers. They also have programs where individuals or organizations can sponsor a child. This involves receiving a list of their interests and items that they want, so  that sponsored children receive personalized gifts for the holidays.

“There are more ways to get involved than donations and money,” Brewer said. “There’s always work to be done on campus, we’re starting a mentorship program, which is a way you can get directly involved with the kids. But for the most part, they just need positive role models and people who care, and are there for them. Boys and Girls Haven is a small organization, and it’s definitely growing rapidly, so there is plenty of room for creativity and getting involved in lots of different ways,” Brewer said.

To get involved with Franciscan Kitchen, visit their website, and find the SignUpGenius icon. From there, select days and whether you would like to cook, prep or serve. For questions or more information, you can call Executive Director Chuck Mattingly at (502) 643-8400.

To find more information about volunteering with the Boys and Girls Haven, visit their volunteer page. To learn about gift drives and monetary donations, visit their donation drives page, or their give now page.  

About the Contributor
Stella Kolers, Staffer
Stella Kolers is a sophomore staffer for Manual RedEye. She enjoys playing volleyball, listening to music, and spending time with her friends. You can contact her at [email protected].
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