BY WALTER GRIFFIN
FOR THE MIDCOAST BEACON
ROCKLAND — For the “Chefs of Chaos,” the opportunity to work their magic at the Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church every month provides nourishment for the heart and soul.
Compassion, charity and community service are Maine hallmarks and for longtime friends David “the vicar” Grima, Phil Galucki, Bob Besaw and Steve Heddericg, helping the area’s hungry is something they take to heart. They generally prepare a meal every fifth Saturday and have a lot of fun doing it.
“It’s not only a gastronomical celebration, it’s a social thing,” said Owls Head artist Besaw. “It’s something we enjoy doing for the community and for ourselves. Good food makes people happy.”
On a recent Saturday, more than 30 people filled the church meeting room for a lunch of Besaw’s chicken pot pie with homemade biscuits and Shrimps Galucki — a macaroni salad with shrimp, pickled relish and cut vegetables and peppers. Dessert was home-baked cookies prepared by Besaw’s wife, Anne, the night before.
Galucki said he learned the recipe from his late mother Eleanor, who joined a religious order after the death of her husband.
“My mother the sister,” Jefferson resident and court reporter Galucki said. “It’s an old recipe that came over on the Lusitania.”
When reminded that the plural of shrimp was not shrimps, Galucki’s wife, Gwen, quipped that “when your mother is a nun, that’s the way it is. You don’t question, you just eat.”
Rockland-area churches have been supporting the weekend soup kitchen for more than 20 years, Grima said.
Originally the meals were served at the Pratt Memorial Methodist Church, but when that congregation relocated to a new building on the outskirts of town, the meals moved to St. Peter’s downtown.
St. Bernard’s Catholic Church runs a soup kitchen during the week. Grima has served as the program’s volunteer manager for the past eight years.
“I was looking to do something useful in the community,” Grima recalled. “All I was doing was looking to help out, but at the same time, Isabel Polk, the woman who had been doing it for ages, was ordained a deacon and had to give it up. I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Meals are prepared by groups from Rockland Congregational Church, Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Nativity Lutheran Church of Rockport, St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church of Camden, First Universalist Church of Rockland, Youth Links of Rockland, Camden Hills Regional High School National Honor Society, Watershed School of Rockland and Adas Yoshuron Synagogue of Rockland on an alternating basis.
“They do it once a month at most. That way it avoids burnout,” said Rockland resident Grima, a job development specialist. “People from all walks of life eat here. If ever the queen of England came in, if she didn’t mind standing in line, she would get fed, too.”
Most of the food used to prepare the meals is donated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Hannaford contributes paper cups and napkins and local groups, businesses and individuals also contribute items.
Besaw added that during the Maine Lobster Festival, local fish and shellfish vendors Jess’s Market and Atwood Lobster Co. donate the ingredients for that weekend’s meal.
“I try to make a seafood stew better than anything they serve at the festival,” he said. “It sort of goes along with my painting, I like to make people happy. It really makes you feel good doing something for other people. You ever get down about yourself or your situation, you don’t have to look very far to realize that it could be a lot worse.”