While University of Wisconsin students were still on winter break, presumably in the comfort of their parents’ houses, a safe haven for Madison’s homeless was badly damaged by fire. This January, Porchlight — a non-profit that provides a variety of services including counseling and shelter for the homeless — incurred enough damage to displace several residents from the Brooks Street building located near Grainger Hall.
For an organization that already depends on the donations from others, this was a devastating blow. However, there are some in the Madison community who are dedicated to helping the shelter in what might be its greatest time of need.
Inspired by a similar event in Chicago, Nancy Sorensen is organizing a series of free “Soup & Bread” dinners where attendees are encouraged to donate to benefit local charities. The proceeds from tonight’s event at the High Noon Saloon will go toward Porchlight.
“They’re always in need of funds, but I thought this might give them an extra boost,” Sorenson said in reference to the recent fire at the Porchlight.
Sorenson has a lot of experience with food-based fundraisers since she also runs Iron Cupcake Madison, a baking competition that raises money for food shelters.
As for her latest project, she got the idea from a Chicago-based initiative that serves free weekly soup dinners hosted at a bar featuring jazz musicians, the proceeds from which benefit local food shelters. Sorenson adopted a similar model but adapted it for the Madison scene.
That meant securing the High Noon Saloon as the venue, getting local chefs from the Weary Traveler, Metcalfe and Nutshell Catering on board and operating on a less frequent schedule. Several amateur chefs from the Madison area are also pitching in with pots full of their favorite soup recipes.
The first event was held in November of last year and raised more than $1,000 to benefit Second Harvest. Sorensen said she hopes to make this a monthly event and increase its frequency if it continues to be popular.
“They’re fun and designed to bring people out and foster a sense of community and hopefully fill the empty crockpot so that other people can eat as well,” she said.
Sorenson also said that even if people have only a few minutes, they should drop by the event. “Last time we had some people who couldn’t stay, and they went through the line with their Tupperware and at least had enough for lunch tomorrow,” she said.
Although this event will benefit Porchlight, future events will benefit other local nonprofits in need. The Madison Soup & Bread benefit does not have its own webpage yet, but those interested in attending can look it up on Facebook or check local events calendars for future events.
For more information on the event, please visit The High Noon Saloon’s website at www.high-noon.com.