Arts & Culture

Five-hundred people fed for Thanksgiving

Souls Harbour makes a difference one mouth at a time

Five-hundred people fed for Thanksgiving photo by : Chiara Ferrero-Wong
written by Chiara Ferrero-Wong
October 10, 2017 4:05 pm

The season of sweaters, pumpkins, and changing leaves is approaching, and with it, Thanksgiving; the holiday we all associate with an abundance of food – mainly turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie.  For a lot of people, this time of year is when we come together with those we love to show our thanks for the lives we lead.

For Michelle and Ken Porter, this is a time for doing what they love most: giving back to members of the community.

The Porter’s are the founders of Souls Harbour Rescue Mission Halifax, a charity dedicated to helping those afflicted by poverty. They offer food, clothing, shelter, as well as recovery programs and religious guidance. The Porter’s live frugally to stay dedicated in offering all they have to those less fortunate. There’s a verse in the bible that says to sell everything you have in order to give to the poor – Michelle and Ken do just this.

When asked what the hardest part of her job is, Michelle replied, “not having enough hours in my day. Our work at Souls Harbour is only six years old and we are growing by leaps and bounds, so there is always much to do to improve and expand our services to those in need.”

On Oct. 7, the Porter’s and the rest of Souls Harbour will be hosting a Thanksgiving dinner at both Halifax and Bridgewater locations. The dinner includes a traditional turkey dinner: stuffing, cranberries, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables – the works. They’re preparing for 400 guests at the Halifax location and 80 in Bridgewater, with a team of 80 volunteers serving the events.

Souls Harbour moves across the nation

Souls Harbour first started in Regina, Saskatchewan and it soon became the largest service provider to the homeless in Saskatchewan, providing more than 100 000 meals a year with 90 overnight guests every night. When they thought it looked like this same service was needed in Halifax, Michelle and Ken sold what they could; they got into their car and drove across the country to bring their services to the east coast.

In order to get the organization off its feet in Halifax, the couple went two years without pay.

The drop-in centre is one of the main services provided by Souls Harbour. The drop-in centre receives local calls, carries daily newspapers, magazines; it has a lending library, computers for use, free income tax returns offered both in English and Spanish and up to 100 hot lunches each week.

Souls Harbour hosts the Good News Chapel; a church service led by Reverend Ken Porter. Souls Harbour offers these services to offer the less fortunate a community to be part of. It’s been shown that being a part of a community, like a church, leads to more success in beating addiction, as well as building compassion for fellow community members.

The Good News Chapel opens its doors to all – regardless of social status, gender, race, or religious beliefs. The service is run from 7-8 p.m. every Wednesday evening with a sermon given by Reverend Ken Porter and snacks provided afterward for all attendees.

“This year we just won $20, 000 from 100 Men Who Give a Damn. It will go towards our main floor space, so we can provide showers and laundry,” Michelle said when speaking about all the plans on the horizon for the organization.

Currently, they’re trying to win the grand prize from the Aviva voting campaign with the hopes to commercialize their kitchen and provide a completely accessible dining area.