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Inman Center opens doors to displaced soup kitchen

Tuesday, September 27, 2016 - Updated: 7:06 AM


Recorder News Staff

Volunteers from the Faith Soup Kitchen were busy preparing meals again Monday in the program's new temporary home at the Horace J. Inman Senior Center while waiting for building repairs to be completed at the Amsterdam Masonic Temple.

The soup kitchen had operated at the Masonic Temple on Division Street, but a car crash seriously damaged the building on Saturday, Sept. 10. Inman Center Executive Director Robert von Hasseln said he reached out to soup kitchen organizers to offer the senior center as a temporary home. Von Hasseln said the center plans to continue its support of the soup kitchen for as long as needed.

Inman Center Board of Directors Chairwoman JoAnn Gegzno said the facility would be offered at no charge to host the soup kitchen. Monday was the first day the soup kitchen operated out of the center.

"We're pleased to be able to step up in this emergency and help the parishioners of St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church who provide so generously of their time and money to keep providing meals to those in need," Gegzno said in a prepared statement.

The soup kitchen will operate on Mondays from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Inman Center, with volunteers utilizing the facility's kitchen to prepare meals for the day.

Von Hasseln said the center rearranged some of its regular activities on Monday to allow for the soup kitchen to operate. He said the meals can be a lifeline for people in the community.

"A lot of people don't eat well or enough over the weekend and Monday is particularly crucial day for them to get back in operation," von Hasseln said. "We all feel glad to be able to pitch in on short notice and keep this going."

Broadalbin resident Jim Roberts, a soup kitchen volunteer, said there was a time when he was unable to "make ends meet" and he visited the soup kitchen in the city to get a meal. Roberts has been volunteering with the Faith Soup Kitchen for over a year.

"I kinda took over the grill -- I love it," Roberts said.

Roberts, who is retired, said he enjoys being able to give back and volunteering gets him out of his home and keeps him busy.

Fellow soup kitchen volunteer Vicky Hughes, a city resident, said she is also retired and volunteering helps her stay busy and active. "You don't want to retire and get old in the process," she said.

Von Hasseln said hosting the soup kitchen demonstrates how the Inman Center views itself as an asset not only to seniors, but to the entire community. He said the center hosts veterans programs and serves as a heating and cooling shelter for the community, among other activities.

"We want people to think of seniors as not just fully engaged in their own lives," von Hasseln said, "but also fully engaged in the community."

Von Hasseln said along with the center having a fully functional kitchen, it has the tables and chairs needed for people who are served. He said unless the soup kitchen finds someplace to better meet its needs during the interim then the center plans to continue hosting the community program.

Amsterdam police said a 78-year-old Amsterdam woman was driving south on Route 30 on Sept. 10 when she claimed the brakes failed on her Jeep Grand Cherokee. After the brakes failed, she reportedly drove over a curb, hit a sign and crosswalk light pole, and crashed into the Masonic Temple before coming to a stop, according to police reports.

The front of the vehicle broke through the wall and partially entered the Masonic Temple. The vehicle was towed from the scene.

Police had said the woman was reportedly treated at St. Mary's Hospital for minor injuries. There were no other injuries reported.