Tonya Lasky of Clovis, right, listens to Apostolic Bible Center Pastor Allen Urioste pray before lunch Thursday at the current Lighthouse Mission kitchen. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)
By Leslie Radford: CNJ staff writer
Robert Mendez walks a mile and a half a couple of days a week to the Lighthouse Mission’s kitchen. He looks forward to the exercise and the noon ministries along with a hot meal that awaits him.
Mendez and others like him will have a new soup kitchen to serve them in the near future, Lighthouse officials hope.
“I come here mostly for the fellowship,” said Mendez, who has made many friends over the last couple of years at the Lighthouse.
To meet new state standards, the Lighthouse Mission’s kitchen needed major revamping. The organization also needed more room to provide services to the community, according to Richard Gomez, who co-founded Lighthouse Mission 17 years ago with his brother.
Instead, the Lighthouse opted to construct a new 8,000-square-foot steel building two blocks west of the current facility on 104 S. Connelly, Gomez said. Construction on the $350,000 building began in October 2004.
“We currently serve about 80 every day at lunch time,” Gomez said. “With the new building, we’ll be able to meet the needs of even more people.”
Gomez hopes the kitchen will be completed in July.
When complete, the new soup kitchen will be operated seven days a week, Gomez said. It currently serves breakfast and lunch to the needy Monday through Friday.
Currently, the mission is collecting funds to finish the soup kitchen — funds that a Clovis couple who wish to remain anonymous promised to match. To date, $30,000 has been raised for the soup kitchen plus another $97,000 for the overall building, Gomez said.
“This couple is truly a blessing to our mission,” Gomez said. “They are matching dollar for dollar up to $150,000.”
Gomez hopes the community will respond generously.
“The need for something like the Lighthouse Mission is extreme in our area,” Gomez said. “Some people come to us for long-term help, others just need a temporary hand. There was a time in my life that I remember was rough. I just want to reach out and help people.”
Gomez said the Lighthouse Mission is for anyone in need of help and guidance. The Lighthouse provides not only a soup kitchen but has a clothing bank and shelter as well.
“No one is turned down here,” Gomez said. “We try to help anyone who walks through our doors.”