Bread of Life Ministries is a non-profit, interdenominational Christian charitable ministry, founded in September, 1984 by Carolyn Neighoff and several other dedicated people from Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. They joined together and opened the soup kitchen at 157 Water Street, where it remains today. In 1986, the emergency homeless shelter on Hospital Street was opened. Mr. Roger Gould, a member of Green Street United Methodist Church, created a wheat emblem for us, and that emblem now appears at the top of all our stationery, cards, and banners.
Bread of Life is the only soup kitchen in the Augusta area (including Augusta, Manchester, Hallowell, Chelsea, Vassalboro and Sidney – with a total population of approximately 55,000) and the only general purpose homeless shelter (there is a shelter in Waterville to which we refer people when we are full). The meals we serve at the soup kitchen are the only hot meal some of our clients get each day and for some, it is the only meal. Many of our clients are mentally ill and cannot hold down a full time job and, therefore, can only afford a one-room efficiency apartment. They may have no place to store food or even the means to cook food. Our mission is to serve the hungry and homeless people in the Augusta area and to provide services that allow people to take accountability for their lives and help them become self-sufficient.
Bread of Life Ministries is comprised of five major service areas:
- The Soup Kitchen – serving 36,000 meals a year
- The Homeless Shelter – providing 10.000 bed nights, with 60% being families and 1/3 being a child
- Transitional Housing – 16 units of housing for individuals and families to live for up to two years
- Permanent Housing – 65 units of permanent housing for low income individuals and families, and
- In partnership with KVCAP, a new neighborhood of over 43 units of new affordable housing for mixed-income families
- Case Management – personal support while searching for housing, jobs, school assistance, GED development, application to college, mentoring and support from staff and volunteers
Many volunteers help out at the kitchen, shelter, and throughout the organization. Some of our volunteers have been donating their time since the kitchen opened in 1984. We have four to six volunteers each day who together donate in excess of 700 hours of their time each month, over 9000 hours a year just in the soup kitchen. We also welcome community service volunteers, both ordered by the court and high school students required to complete a certain number of hours in order to graduate. Youth groups, seniors, families and businesses are involved in volunteering and helping out in our daily activities and in our two boards: Board of Directors, and Advisory Board of Community Leaders. Bread of Life Ministries continues to be well-known and well-respected in the community, and has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the Community Service Award in 2008 by the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce, and partnership awards from KVCAP in 2007 and Co-Occuring Court in 2009.