It was Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Waterville and people were filing into the Waterville Area Soup Kitchen to eat.

The aroma of turkey stew greeted me as I entered the side door, a steamy warmth emanating from the kitchen at 38 College Ave.

Volunteers were washing dishes, scrubbing countertops, signing guests in and dishing out meals.

I asked for Carla Caron, president of the soup kitchen’s board of directors, who runs the show.

Always multitasking, she appeared from the backroom, eager to update me when I asked how things were going. Caron said they were kicking off a fundraiser called the “$100 Club” — aiming to find 1,800 people to donate $100 each — to cover the soup kitchen’s budget. Caron said people can go to the soup kitchen’s Facebook page and its website,, for more information.

People also may mail checks to WASK, P.O. Box 1494, Waterville, ME 04903, she said.


The Lighthouse Waterville Area Soup Kitchen has opened as a warming center from 1-5 p.m. Monday through Friday in Waterville. The brightly painted building, shown Tuesday, is located at 38 College Ave. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

It has been no secret that the nonprofit organization, like many others who help the needy, has been struggling to keep up as more and more people are becoming hungry and homeless.

Monday was the first day the soup kitchen, called The Lighthouse, would be open from 1-5 p.m. Monday through Friday to serve as a warming center. The volunteers also lend solace to those in need.

“I had someone with severe frostbite today,” Caron said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. He was in so much pain. We took his boots off. I talked to him and said, ‘We have to get you inside.’ He’s living outside. He’s one of six or eight people still down at the Head of Falls.”

Kerri Coderre of The Lighthouse Waterville Area Soup Kitchen mops as individuals take shelter Monday at the warming center located at the soup kitchen in Waterville. It was the first day of the warming center, which is open from 1-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

He was taken by ambulance to the hospital and Caron said she would check up on him. While the city, Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter and others are working to get people housed this winter, some just don’t want to leave their tents, according to Caron.

“It’s not their choice but a lot of them live in a state of anxiety and there’s an element of mental illness,” she said. “But to me, it’s trauma. It’s post-traumatic stress and they just don’t know how to come out of it. They need follow-up. I feel like it’s overwhelming to them to think about, ‘How am I going to go from living here to coping in the world?’ Their world is so small and when you talk about changing your living conditions, it’s hard.”

Some people are so used to having their freedom and not answering to anyone that when they think about all the steps it takes to go from unhoused to living in a place and having a lot of responsibilities, it is too much, she said.


“They’ve lost the tools that maybe they had to care for themselves and their home.”

The soup kitchen serves 5,000 meals a month, uses all volunteer help and offers a light breakfast at 8 a.m. and a hot meal from 11:20 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The kitchen operates on $16,000 a month, according to Caron. Food comes from Good Shepherd Food Bank and Performance Foodservice-NorthCenter, based in Augusta. It also receives in-kind donations from Winslow Community Food Cupboard, Hannaford and Waterville Food Bank, she said.

The warming center will offer educational programs, nutrition workshops and other activities. On Monday, a man was coming in to do an art workshop, according to Caron. She said she encourages social service agencies to visit with clients there, and a private office is available for that purpose.

Timothy Heck, 50, spent Monday sheltering at the warming center located at The Lighthouse Waterville Area Soup Kitchen in Waterville. Heck and his wife, Lydia Heck, who was also at the center, are homeless. Monday was the first day of the warming center, which is open from 1-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Amanda Frasier, 37, who is homeless and said she had no idea where she would be sleeping Monday night, confirmed the warming center is desperately needed.

“There are days when it’s freezing,” she said. “Some people don’t have the clothing to wear outside. Some people have nowhere to go.”

Every donation helps the soup kitchen and warming enter, according to Caron. She hopes people who can afford it will give to the $100 Club.

“If we could get some footing under us, that would be fantastic to feel the security of having six months to a year budgeted,” she said. “And we can continue grant writing and fundraising.”

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 35 years. Her columns appear here Saturdays. She is the author of the book, “Comfort is an Old Barn,” a collection of her curated columns, published in 2023 by Islandport Press. She may be reached at For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to

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