Meet the Waltham Southsiders. A group of people with different backgrounds, careers and interests, but they do have a few things in common - they are all from Waltham’s Southside and they volunteer the 4th Friday of each month at the MHSA Bristol Lodge Soup Kitchen. The soup kitchen is located in the basement of the Immanuel United Methodist Church on Moody Street and serves a hot meal to those struggling with food insecurity 365 days a year. “I get so much from this experience, it’s just a comforting place to be,” comments Janet Williams. Janet, a native Southsider started volunteering at the soup kitchen ten years ago with her husband and friends from Our Lady’s Parish. Her commitment to helping others persevered after her husband passed away and she now volunteers with her dear friend Barbara Compton. Another Southsider, Lisa Limonciello who works at the Waltham Boys & Girls Club loves to give back to her community. Lisa considers nights serving at the soup kitchen her favorite volunteer experience.
Local business owners, Guy and Simone Girouard have volunteered for years with the Southside group. They may not live in Waltham’s Southside, but their family run business, Donovan’s Alignment is located on Pine Street. When Cathyann Harris, a 20 year Waltham resident was elected for her two year term as City Councilor Ward 8, she wanted to give back to the community. She began volunteering at the Salvation Army and joined the Southside group to serve hot, healthy meals to individuals in need. Cathyann adds, “The clients are so appreciative, and we give them the respect and dignity that they deserve.” Another Southside duo is Pauline Cormier and her son Paul. Pauline started volunteering at the soup kitchen 15 years ago with a group from Saint Joseph’s Church. When the church closed, she kept on volunteering and attracted most of the members of the Southside volunteer group. Pauline is known for her infectious smile, endearing hugs and of course her homemade baked beans which are always a hit!
Over 2,000 volunteers support MHSA programs annually. There is something to be said for giving back to your community and making life-long friendships along the way. Cathyann Harris concludes, “The people who work here are amazing, it’s a powerful connection that brings us together.”