Opening of the charitable soup kitchen in Vilnius

The grand opening of the Vilnius charitable soup kitchen “Old Friends Home” was held on the 19th March
2002. The fund “Viso passaulio viltis” (“Hope of the world”) rented a small cozy cafe to set up the
soup kitchen. It is situated near the old Vilnius district. Most of the poorest pensioners live in this
area according to information from the local government, and conditions are not good. Rent in the area o
ften takes up half of the pensioners’ checks. The other half is barely enough to buy food and medicine.
In some apartments the electricity has been cut due to overdue payment. Moreover, the representative of
Social Services of Vilnius City Administration, Mrs. Chepenate remarked in her speech at the opening that
social help in the form of a free meal for the needy has decreased sharply in the last year. She concluded
that opening the soup kitchen for the poor people in Vilnius is vitally important. She also expressed her
hope that the “Old Friends Home” project be an example to similar charitable soup kitchens in the rest of
the city.

The soup kitchen opened its door with the capacity to feed 40 visitors a day, and has now increased that
capacity to 66. Every weekday, our guests can get a free meal as well as participate in different
activities. From the very beginning the program was set up not only to give the needy a free meal but also
to satisfy the social and emotional needs of the lonely. Another of our goals is to help the pensioners
overcome feelings of loneliness and uselessness, and to help them build relationships with each other.
The “Old Friends Home” program includes the “Day of Hope”, a game of lotto, etc.

Plans for the future include opening more soup kitchens and increasing over all capacity in order to
provide for as many needy people as possible, on a permanent basis.

At the end of the ceremony our guests had lunch and were then encouraged to share their comments on
the cuisine. One pensioner brought an accordion and everyone danced and sang. This event was for the
most one of the most memorable holidays for many of the pensioners who have been alone for several years.