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
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
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