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Bridge Emergency Shelter fundraiser tours the world with soup

Volunteers dish up recipes to fund new building for Bridge shelter

The Bridge Emergency Shelter’s Soups of the World fundraiser on Saturday attempted to raise money for a new building while introducing guests to one of the world’s most universal foods.

Shelter staff, cooking students and volunteers from around the county served up soup recipes from Korea, Thailand, Italy and other countries in the Montezuma-Cortez High School cafeteria to more than 100 paying guests.

The event is typically the shelter’s biggest fundraiser of the year, but this was the first time staff had organized it in two years. Proceeds from ticket sales and from a dessert auction that followed the meal went toward the new Bridge building, which is scheduled to start construction later this year.

The new, two-story shelter will be located on 735 N. Park St. Estimated to cost about $2.3 million, the project is being funded by matching grants from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and the Gates Family Foundation. Executive Director Laurie Knutson said the shelter raised the matching funds it needed for the grants before Saturday’s event, so the money from “Soups of the World” will instead go to cover furniture and other accessories for the new building, as well as any construction overages.

Visitors at the fundraiser were greeted at the door with the latest sketches of the new shelter, provided by RMBA Architects. Volunteers in a buffet line served seven different kinds of soup, along with bread and other side dishes. Knutson said the event, which the shelter has hosted since 2007, is meant to raise awareness of those in need.

“It’s an acknowledgment that people without a lot of means, around the world, have always eaten soup and bread,” she said.

Some of the chefs behind the soup work at the shelter, and others were simply Montezuma County residents with a recipe to share. The MCHS cooking class provided a Cuban black bean soup. Several local people also donated cakes, pies and other desserts that were auctioned off later in the evening.

Zoe Coleman was one of four AmeriCorps volunteers who helped serve the food. She said it was her first time volunteering with the Bridge, although she regularly helps out at the Mount Lookout Grange food pantry in Mancos.

“It’s a nice way to meet people and help the community,” she said. “I go to a lot of these events, and there are a lot of them in the county, which is great.”

Several regular guests at the Bridge also volunteered at the event, helping to serve drinks and clear tables. Shawn Morgan, who said he had been sleeping at the shelter about two weeks, said he was impressed with the plans for the new building, although he hopes he won’t need to stay there anymore by the time it’s built.

“I was kind of skeptical about going there, but they make you comfortable,” he said of the Bridge. “They don’t make it seem like they’re talking down on you ... it seems like they actually care.”

Knutson said an anonymous donor had offered to match all ticket and auction sales at the event up to $5,000. In past years, $5,000 has been the average amount raised at the dinner.

Bridge staff hope to break ground on their new building sometime this summer.

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