LINK FOUNDERS: Ethel Williamson, Father Michael Hermes, Betty & Ed Dutton

The Lawrence Interdenominational Kitchen opened in Lawrence, Kansas in the basement of St. John’s Catholic Church on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1985, serving 6 people. LINK was the brainchild of Ethel Williamson, a retired social worker from New York City and Father Michael Hermes, a volunteer with the archdiocese of Kansas City.

After a 1984 study on hunger in Douglas County by the League of Women Voters and the Council on Community Services and encouragement from the Emergency Services Council, Williamson and Hermes were told to “Go for it.”

serving2“If somebody is hungry they can get a hot meal, and also if somebody is lonely, they can get companionship,” said Williamson. “Churches and organizations will adopt a day and they’ll supply workers and the food,” said Hermes. “We want to link different segments or our community together,” added Hermes.

According to Betty Dutton, “The idea was to just to bring everybody together and just share-no questions asked. There may be people who come to the new soup kitchen who have food in their refrigerators but just want company.”

Today,  Link serves lunch four times a week to 150 to 200 people at each meal.