Stone Soup Kitchen volunteer turns 85
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Stone Soup Kitchen volunteer turns 85

Jul 15, 2023

Aug 31, 2023

Arliss Miller stirs the beans with Val Kula Wednesday at the Stone Soup Kitchen, where he celebrated his 85th birthday. Miller has volunteered at the kitchen for 15 years and is among the remaining originals. (Photo by Jess Mancini)

PARKERSBURG — A volunteer celebrated his birthday Wednesday at a local soup kitchen where he has served since its inception in 2009.

Arliss Miller turned 85 while working at the weekly Stone Soup Kitchen staffed by volunteers mainly from the St. Francis Xavier, St. Monica’s, St. Michael’s and St. Margaret Mary Catholic churches in Wood County. The kitchen is held Wednesdays at the St. Francis Parish Hall on Market Street.

Miller and his wife, Rebecca, moved to Parkersburg in 2008. She taught school in Calhoun County for 29 years and retired in 2012 from Jefferson Elementary in Parkersburg.

The Stone Soup Kitchen is held 11 a.m. Wednesdays at the St. Francis Activity Center on Market Street. Volunteers start arriving at 9 a.m. to begin cooking and prepare for the kitchen.

Arliss has volunteered at the soup kitchen since 2009. The kitchen was the idea of Val Kula, who continues to volunteer at the kitchen as the coordinator.

Some of the many volunteers assembled for a photo at the Stone Soup Kitchen include, from left front, Val Kula, Julie Bell, Rhonda Butcher, Mary Lou Freed and Fran Cullen. In back are Liz Hughes, Rebecca Miller, Rebecca Crum and Angie Vanskiver. (Photo by Jess Mancini)

Arliss’ birthday was celebrated Wednesday at the soup kitchen, where everyone had cake and ice cream.

Attendance at the kitchen varies each week, Arliss said. From 50 to 60 people eat there, but several weeks before about 120 people ate at the kitchen, he said.

“It varies. It has been higher this summer than it was last,” he said.

“I have no idea why,” Arliss said. “I’m in the kitchen, so I don’t know.”

Attendance has be in the area of 100 this summer, with regulars, kids on summer vacation and new people, too, Kula said.

“There’s been a lot of new faces we’ve seen this summer,” she said.

Rebecca volunteers at the kitchen, too.

Meals are taken to the participants seated at the tables, Rebecca said.

“Just like a restaurant,” she said. “They don’t have to stand up.”

Arliss, Fran and Bill Cullen and Kula are the remaining original volunteers.

From 25 to 30 volunteers from the four Catholic churches and other churches work each week, Kula said.

“They’re a faithful group of people,” Kula said.

She is pleased the kitchen has been offered for 15 years. Early, she wasn’t so sure because few people took advantage of the meals, but then attendance started to grow.

Everything provided is from donations from the community, Kula said. Donations of food items or money can be taken to the parish center, she said.

Hygiene products are welcome, too, and socks, hats and gloves are appreciated in the colder months, she said.

“We go strictly on donations,” Kula said.

Jess Mancini can be reached at [email protected].

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