Downtown Hope Center welcomes volunteers on MLK Jr. Day of service

Downtown Hope Center welcomes volunteers on MLK Jr. Day of service
Published: Jan. 16, 2023 at 4:12 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Downtown Hope Center opened its kitchen to volunteers on Monday.

For some, preparing food and handing it to homeless Anchorage residents was a first-time experience to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but for others like Nancy DePalma, it’s an important three-times-a-week ritual. DePalma has been volunteering at the center for nearly a full year.

“People need to eat that don’t have access to food, whether it’s a holiday or not,” DePalma said.

The faith-based nonprofit is primarily a shelter for single women, but it also serves a bagged lunch and hot soup to anyone who comes to their door, five days a week. Chef David Sorensen said the program depends on volunteers to feed the large crowds.

“We accomplish making soup and sandwiches for 3-400 people, Monday through Saturday,” Sorensen said. “The volunteers, like I said, are our main workforce. Being a nonprofit, we can’t afford to hire that many people to be able to accomplish this, so they are an integral part of making this work.”

Volunteer coordinator Cherish Hageman said there are lots of opportunities for individuals, even families to volunteer at different times throughout the week.

“I like to work with our volunteers to find what their passion is,” Hageman said. “So if we put someone in the kitchen and they’re not content, we find other ways to help them serve, whether that’s in the clothing room or the shower house, and we have ladies who come do arts and crafts with our shelter guests as well, or leading worship service or anything else like that.”

Hageman said people wishing to volunteer should go to the Hope Center website where they can view different opportunities and sign-up for their preference.