Having been blessed with success in the business world, James Gallagher of Bangor is committed to sharing that blessing with others.
A member of Apostolic Lighthouse Church in Bangor, James said with his real estate business and gift shop in Hampden doing well he felt committed, by his faith, to help others and found a way to do that through his church.
In discussions with the Rev. Charles Hurst and fellow church members, James said his belief that since churches are often conducting communitywide fundraisers for their own needs, “it is time for the church to give back to the community.”
One way church members could do so, it was decided, was by offering a free midday meal on Mondays.
Those free meals began April 18 and now are held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Monday at the church, 527 Hammond St.
This free meal “is open for the entire community,”James said. “No one is excluded, and we’re hoping anyone who wants a good meal will attend.”
Church members welcome everyone, including those who are homeless, those who live in senior citizen housing, in the neighborhood and beyond, those who are on Social Security or who just want to enjoy the camaraderie of mingling with others and having a good, healthy, hot meal on a Monday.
The hosts chose the time and day purposely, James told me.
“There are not a lot of noontime places” for people in need to go, he pointed out.
“There are a lot of nighttime things going on, but not much happens at noon.”
Church members have reached out to homeless shelters, and met with others “and told them everyone’s welcome,” James said.
Members of other churches have joined the soup kitchen volunteers and work together to make the site welcoming, he added.
Tables are set with flower arrangements, and people sit together in a warm, friendly atmosphere “that makes them feel like they are coming into a nice restaurant,” James said.
If they wish, guests may go through the line more than once and, when they leave, containers are available to take out food for another meal.
When the free meals first were offered, James told me, every Monday morning, “I would go to Sam’s and round up the food. It’s my personal gift that I am giving. It is something that I feel that I am here to do. I’ve been fortunate in business, so I like to help others.”
As word spread and others came in to help as well as to partake of the meal, something special happened.
A decision was made two weeks ago to put out a donation can for those who might like to contribute any amount to the meal, large or small and, quite remarkably, James told me, “it’s already paying for itself.”
Now that the program has gained momentum, James is convinced “it will be going on and won’t be stopping. We will keep growing.”
He is anticipating the new soup kitchen soon will branch out and begin making daily deliveries “to the disabled and elderly who can’t get out,” he said.
But the expansion won’t stop there.
By fall James hopes the program will include a food pantry.
And he’s especially looking forward to one of the church’s major events, a Fourth of July gathering that used to be a “whole church” picnic.
This year, with the Fourth falling on a Monday, James said, “we’re going to bring the soup kitchen and the church body together and have hamburgers and hot dogs for everyone who wants to come.”
For more information about this program, call James at 570-8107, call the church, 942-2517, or write to Apostolic Lighthouse Church, 527 Hammond St., Bangor 04401.
— • —
Anyone who ever had the idea that bankers are “stuffy” had never met Mal Jones of Bangor, the former president of Bangor Savings Bank, who died this week at 82.
Mal was the most down-to-earth man you’d be likely to meet but, behind that comfortable, folksy demeanor was a keen, intuitive business sense that helped transform BSB from a local community bank to a highly successful statewide institution.
The individuals, businesses and organizations that benefited from Mal’s guidance in all matters, from financial to the overall well-being of the Greater Maine he so loved, are fortunate to have had their paths cross with his.
With his wife, Barbara, his daughters, family, close friends and associates, and the special community that is Bangor Savings Bank, we mourn his passing and remember the kind gift of Mal’s endearing wisdom.
Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; firstname.lastname@example.org; 990-8288.