WATERVILLE — Donations for the ailing Sacred Heart Soup Kitchen have been pouring in, prompting director Dick Willette to announce it has enough to stay open until January.

“I just want to thank people ever-so-much for taking the pressure off me,” Willette said Wednesday. “I can run the soup kitchen at least to the end of the year with donations that have come in.”

The Morning Sentinel ran a story Tuesday reporting the soup kitchen in the basement of Sacred Heart Catholic Church on Pleasant Street may have to close its doors in the coming weeks for lack of consistent funding.

Willette, 79, helped found the kitchen 32 years ago with the Rev. George Goudreau and others, and has been with the soup kitchen since then.

He said Monday that the kitchen was caught in the recession and could not remain open — people who donated money monthly have either died or are having financial difficulties themselves and may no longer contribute.

Also, businesses that had donated changed hands and no longer give, he said.

The kitchen had a $25,000 budget last year and spent $28,000, with Willette donating $3,800 of his own money, he said. But he said he could no longer give money to the cause.

The kitchen serves 75 to 120 meals a day, five days a week and has 42 volunteers. In 2011, 47,697 meals were served.

Willette said Wednesday that he did not know the exact amount donated in the last couple of days, but people have been generous and he is touched by that.

One man came in with $113 for the kitchen.

“He said, ‘You can expect that every month from me,'” Willette recalled. “A lady called and said, ‘Mr. Willette, I want to give you $5 out of my check and you can expect that every month — out of my Social Security check.'”

Willette said he also got a call from a woman at Calvary Temple on West River Road who said she wanted to have a pie sale to help raise money for the soup kitchen.

“It’s stuff like that that brings tears to my eyes,” he said. “People have been so good.”

He said he hopes people continue to give. A quick fix will keep the kitchen open in the short term, but long-term, the only way to ensure its operation is if people pledge to give on a monthly basis, he said.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.