- 10,000-square-foot building, including a 5,000-square-foot dining hall and 2,500-square-foot commercial kitchen;
- Dedicated space for Mission Catering, Mission Culinary Academy and other job training courses;
- 185-seat dining hall with a flow-through serving line;
- Entryway will serve as a warming area for guests waiting in line;
- Flexible community rooms for meetings, events and additional training courses;
- Ample restrooms for guests, volunteers and staff.
After years of planning and a groundbreaking in early 2019, Springs Rescue Mission unveiled its new 185-seat “Samaritan’s Kitchen and Dining Hall” Thursday to a crowd of donors, city leaders and community supporters. Speakers at the event included Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers and Larry Yonker, the Mission’s outgoing President & CEO who helped start the capital campaign that led to the kitchen’s creation.
“The completion of our new Samaritan’s Kitchen and Dining Hall is so exciting,” said President & CEO Larry Yonker. “We’re truly grateful to all of our generous donors and to the City of Colorado Springs for helping make this project a reality.”
Marilyn Vyzourek, who helped start Springs Rescue Mission as a food outreach ministry with her late husband Paul in 1996, joined Suthers in a ribbon-cutting representing the official opening of the new facility.
The new Samaritan’s Kitchen and Dining Hall will begin serving meals next week, replacing the existing undersized and outdated facility currently located on the ground floor of 5 W. Las Vegas St. It will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner to those throughout the entire campus — including the 450-bed shelter and the 65-unit Greenway Flats permanent supportive housing complex at 59 W. Las Vegas St. — as well as to the general public.
Samaritan’s Kitchen currently serves more than 225,000 meals each year, and that number is expected to grow due to continual increase in demand, a new public lunch program and more serving capabilities. The new facility is also designed to create a waiting area for those seeking food, eliminating guests’ exposure to the elements while waiting in long lines outside.
“For so long, guests have had to stand in long lines to wait for their meals,” said Yonker. “This new space will allow us to keep people out of the cold and feed more hungry neighbors than ever before!”
The new building also houses classrooms for culinary arts education and job skills trainings, as well as conference rooms and dedicated space for Mission Catering (a social enterprise) and the Mission Culinary Academy (serving men in the New Life Program).
“A new kitchen gives us another opportunity to build community and to provide hope to people who need it most,” said Mission Catering manager Jason Horn, who also serves as instructor for the Mission Culinary Academy and is a graduate of the New Life Program. “Food is important for so many reasons, and we’re going to be able to give that to people like never before. It’s exciting.”
Samaritan’s Kitchen and Dining Hall is the latest in a series of projects funded through the $16 million “Community of Hope” capital campaign, which began in 2015 and has resulted in the construction of a new Men’s Shelter and Resource Center. The campaign’s goal is to transform Springs Rescue Mission into an expansive homeless resource campus in downtown Colorado Springs.
“Springs Rescue Mission has been a vital partner in providing low barrier shelter to people experiencing homelessness in Colorado Springs,” said Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers. “The City fully supports its continued efforts to provide wrap around services, including this new kitchen, which adds to the services provided by the campus. We congratulate the Rescue Mission on its latest success and express our appreciation to its management and donors for working tirelessly to continue to serve our city’s most vulnerable.”
The next and final construction project of the Community of Hope campaign will be to enclose the campus and create a new Welcome Center that will serve as a singular point of entry. That facility will allow Mission staff to screen individuals and ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of the client population.
Cindy has stayed in the women’s shelter since last year and said she thinks the new kitchen will be a place of hope and community.
“I just think it’s beautiful,” she said. “And I think it will be a place people feel good about being in, and it will be a great gathering place for people who are homeless and have nowhere else to go to have a nice dining experience.”
Work is expected to begin on transforming the ground floor of the Mission’s administration building into the new welcome center in the coming weeks before finishing up the project next year. The Welcome Center will offer important information, kennels for their dogs or cats, and will serve as a singular point of entry where guests can begin their journey to find pathways out of homelessness.
* The actual number of seats will vary between 180 and 200 based on need, due to the used of moveable tables and chairs.
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