Mary Joesten (center), director of Faith Mission, talks with Deborah...

Mary Joesten (center), director of Faith Mission, talks with Deborah Dixon (left) while serving folks at the First United Methodist Church in Roosevelt. (March 17, 2012) Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

A soup kitchen that has fed hundreds of residents in Roosevelt and the vicinity for more than a decade needs help finding a new home.

After April 30, Faith Mission Inc., a volunteer nonprofit that has provided hot meals, clothing and food in Freeport and Roosevelt for 13 years, will be forced to move for a second time in as many years. First United Methodist Church in Roosevelt -- home to the soup kitchen since September -- can no longer host the group due to financial difficulties.

"I was brokenhearted because we were only there about seven months and we had achieved phenomenal work," said Mary Joesten, 75, of Oceanside, a retired insurance broker and Faith Mission's director.

Before moving to Roosevelt, the group spent 12 years in the Holy Redeemer Roman Catholic Church in Freeport. When the work to upgrade its kitchen was too costly, the group moved to the Roosevelt church, and the regulars followed.

The soup kitchen provides breakfast and hot lunch on Saturdays only, Joesten said, serving about 100 people a week. The group, with 160 volunteers, also distributes canned goods, clothes and toiletries, she said. A volunteer social worker and an immigration counselor help fill out applications for public assistance, she added.

"We help people in any way we can," Joesten said. Those served include homeless veterans and unemployed individuals with families. "We serve them as though they are in a restaurant."

Joesten said she is looking for a location in Nassau County that has a kitchen, a large storage room and can accommodate 100 diners.

"We like Roosevelt, but we would be happy to go to any community in Nassau that is in need," Joesten said.

Dermot Sutherland, a trustee and member of the Roosevelt church, said district superintendent Kenny Yi of the United Methodist Church's Long Island West District and church pastor Camella Fairweather decided to have Faith Mission move.

"The church is just a big building in the community not doing anything," said Sutherland, adding the 200-seat church at 30 Union Place is falling on hard times because it has a small congregation. "There was no sort of acceptance and leniency given to them [Faith Mission] . . . It's just a shame."

But Yi said they decided to deny Faith Mission's request for a long-term lease due to the church's uncertain future. The church, founded more than 100 years ago, is thousands of dollars in debt and cannot pay its pastor. He added the soup kitchen gives $100 a month in return for using the facilities.

"I recommended them to find another locality for themselves, if they are looking for a long-term locale," Yi said.

Joesten said more than a dozen churches she's contacted are either not interested or do not have room. "The worst case is that we'll have to close and the people who rely on us won't get what they need," she said. "We would be a homeless soup kitchen."


At a glance


A look at the chronology of Faith Mission Inc.


Faith Mission Inc.'s soup kitchen opens its doors in Holy Redeemer Roman Catholic Church in Freeport.


In September, soup kitchen moves into First United Methodist Church in Roosevelt.


April 30 is deadline for soup kitchen to vacate Roosevelt church.

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