History of Samaritan Ministries
Samaritan Ministries is a beacon of hope for people in need. The Winston-Salem community supports the Soup Kitchen and Samaritan Inn with money, food and the love of volunteers. That love and commitment to people in need goes back to March 3, 1981, when 26 people first dined in the Samaritan Soup Kitchen. The need for services has increased dramatically since then. In November 2003, the Soup Kitchen will serve itsí two-millionth meal since those humble beginnings!

The Soup Kitchen came into being through the vision of church leaders in Winston-Salem. Many of the downtown churches saw a disturbing trend in 1980. People were walking into downtown churches hungry and in search of something to eat. Crisis Control Ministry and other food pantries provided groceries at that time, but some people didnít have the facilities to prepare the food these agencies offered. People in our neighborhoods were suffering.

The community of faith soon responded to the increasing problem of hunger in Forsyth County. On December 3, 1980, church leaders, led by Reverend J. Stimson (Stimp) Hawkins, met at Crisis Control Ministry to plan the opening of a Soup Kitchen.

Before the first meal was ever served, the people working to open the Samaritan Soup Kitchen had a central goal in mind: the ministry should treat people in need with the same love and respect that Christ would treat them. The group looked to the Bible as a guide in not only planning the day-to-day operations of the ministry, but the philosophical approach as well.

From that loving starting point came many of the rules that govern the Soup Kitchen to this day. People dining at the Soup Kitchen are “guests”, not “clients”. The guests are seated in the Soup Kitchen and served by volunteers, instead of standing in line and helping their plates. Plants and flowers grace every table. The Soup Kitchen is kept immaculately clean. Guests are served on china rather than paper, and the meals are not only nutritious, but also delicious. From its’ very beginning, the Soup Kitchen has been about providing a sense of dignity and self-worth as well as food.

A loving need called the Soup Kitchen into being, and a series of miracles opened the doors. The building at the corner of Patterson Avenue and Northwest Boulevard (which Samaritan Ministries still calls home) was donated rent-free for five years by the North Carolina Baptist Hospital. (Baptist Hospital later donated the building to Samaritan Ministries.) A local contractor donated most of the building materials needed to renovate the old building. That contractor also performed the renovation at cost. A grant from the Winston-Salem Foundation paid for the renovations and much of the needed equipment. Many pieces of furniture and equipment arrived at the Soup Kitchen free or with little cost just as they were needed.

The most important donation lingers to this day: loving volunteers donating their time. A group of people committed to living the Gospel rolled up their sleeves and went to work! On March 2, 1981, a mere three months after that first organizational meeting, 26 hungry people enjoyed vegetable soup along with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on English muffins. The Samaritan Soup Kitchen was born!

Crisis Control Ministry oversaw the Soup Kitchen in the early years, but that changed in 1985. Both Crisis Control and the Soup Kitchen existed to help those in need, but the methods of achieving this goal were very different. By this time, the Soup Kitchen had developed a loyal core of volunteers and donors, ensuring that the Soup Kitchen would remain open. The two organizations split, and on September 19, 1985, Samaritan Soup Kitchen officially became a separate non-profit organization. Though separate in purpose and charter, Crisis Control and Samaritan Ministries enjoy a close relationship to this day.

In January 1986, Dr. Thomas Hinson and other doctors and nurses started a much-needed free clinic in the space over the Soup Kitchen. Volunteers lovingly renovated the area, and the clinic has been serving the medical needs of poor people ever since. The Samaritan Medical Clinic meets Monday evening and Thursday morning, and is a separate non-profit corporation.

The Samaritan Soup Kitchen met the needs of hunger in Forsyth County, but the staff and volunteers gradually became aware of another problem among some of the guests: homelessness. The homeless guests had few options for safe shelter at the time, so in 1986, the Samaritan Board of Directors decided it was time to add a homeless shelter.

Reflecting the added purpose of serving the homeless population and other services the ministry was now providing, the Board changed the name to Samaritan Ministries in 1987.

The Winston-Salem community embraced the adding of a homeless shelter to Samaritan Ministries’ purpose. Churches, people and businesses contributed more than $500,000 to build the Samaritan Inn. The Inn opened September 14, 1988, with bed space for 60 men and 9 women.

In the 90’s, a new program graced Samaritan Ministries, shedding new light on the power of compassion to heal lives. Project Cornerstone houses and counsels homeless men demonstrating a strong desire to overcome the disease of addiction. Through group therapy and job skills training programs, Project Cornerstone helps homeless men make the transition from homelessness to permanent housing. The men also make the transition from despair to hope. Many Cornerstone graduates, once homeless addicts, now work for some of the Triad’s finest companies, including Piedmont Natural Gas, Sara Lee, as well as city and county government. Project Cornerstone receives funding from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

With the dawn of a new millennium, Samaritan Ministries continues its’ same mission: providing hope and healing by sharing food, shelter and companionship with the hungry and homeless, through Christian love and service. The Soup Kitchen has served nearly 2,000,000 meals, while Samaritan Inn has provided more than 300,000 nights of safe shelter. Volunteers continue to amaze with their love and dedication to those in need. Thanks to the volunteers, people in despair find food, shelter and a loving hand. Thanks be to God for being present in the volunteers and guests. The work continues.

Samaritan Ministries
1243 Patterson Avenue
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
Phone: 336-748-1962
Fax: 336-748-8207
Sonjia Kurosky Executive Director
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