Pawtucket Soup Kitchen banking on September fundraiser to bridge donation gap

Pawtucket Soup Kitchen banking on September fundraiser to bridge donation gap

PAWTUCKET – From Jan. 1 to July 31, donations to the Pawtucket Soup Kitchen were down by about half of what they were in 2017, says Director Adrienne Marchetti, pictured, making the nonprofit’s annual fundraiser next month that much more important.

The soup kitchen will host its sixth annual Ernie Marot Humanitarian Awards and Fundraising Dinner on Friday, Sept. 21, at its 195 Walcott St. location. The dining site, where Marchetti does the cooking, is located in the basement of St. Joseph Church.

“This is our major fundraiser of the year, so we need it to be successful,” said Marchetti.

Marchetti said staff members aren’t quite sure why donations are “way down,” saying it could be due to any number of factors.

“We’re hoping things are going to turn around after the summer, but we don’t know,” she said.

Adding to the level of concern, as the kitchen runs on a deficit budget, she said, are new changes in tax laws concerning itemized deductions.

“Other nonprofits I have spoken with have seen this same thing as well,” she said. “This is also affecting in-kind donations.”

Many corporate donors tend to give between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31, and though Marchetti is hopeful that many of those donations might come in, the tax changes are giving her reason for concern.

According to a January report in Kiplinger, a Washington, D.C.-based publisher on finance and business, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that went into effect Jan. 1 created a number of losers, including churches, universities, charities and foundations. Due to a higher standard deduction and a $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions, fewer than 10 percent of taxpayers are expected to itemize in the 2018 tax year, according to that report, down from 30 percent previously.

Marchetti said she put out a mailer at the end of May, and didn’t get nearly the response the kitchen has previously gotten.

The Pawtucket Soup Kitchen has faced numerous challenges over the past few years in its goal of feeding hungry people on a daily basis, including several drops in giving, friction over suggestions that the organization is posing a financial drain on the St. Joseph Church, and changes to the state’s free bus pass program, which have since been reversed.

The soup kitchen saw a dramatic drop-off in donations for the first few months of 2017, but made a recovery in the second half of the year, according to Marchetti.

She said staffers have bumped up their grant writing activities, but the process of securing grant funding is a slow one.

At the Sept. 21 fundraising event, festivities will begin at 5 p.m. and will include the presentation of the Ernie Marot Humanitarian Awards, named in honor of the soup kitchen’s late founder, Ernie Marot, and awarded to those individuals and businesses supporting the mission of the soup kitchen “in the same humble and selfless way that Ernie did.”

This year’s honorees include Sen. Elizabeth “Betty” Crowley, of District 16, Central Falls and Pawtucket; Brendan McCorry, of Ernst & Young in Providence; and Arthur Kaufman, of Arthur Kaufman Sales Co.

The Pawtucket Soup Kitchen, founded in 1992 by Marot, serves approximately 43,000 unduplicated meals per year to anyone in need. Breakfast and dinner are served Monday through Friday and a brunch is served on Saturday mornings.

Dinner is provided seven days per week to the homeless guests who stay at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Homeless Shelter in Pawtucket. Lunch is provided Monday through Friday to ACCESS-RI, a program servicing chronically homeless people and families. Once each month, the soup kitchen collaborates with the Bread Line program, providing a hot soup/meal distributed to the hungry and homeless on the streets in Providence.

Ticket prices for the September event are $40, or a table of eight for $300, and can be purchased by either calling the Soup Kitchen at 401-258-4616 or emailing pawtucketsoupkitchen@gmail.com .