NASHUA — The Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter received an early Christmas gift this week when aldermen voted to give $100,000 in contingency money to help the organization with its capital campaign.
"It is Christmas time folks. Give it to them," said Alderman Paul Chasse, Ward 6. "I am in the giving mood."
The Nashua Board of Aldermen voted Tuesday to contribute $100,000 in taxpayer money to the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter, which is trying to reach its $2 million fundraising goal.
The money will be used to help renovate the soup kitchen's new facility on Quincy Street. Repairs to the building are necessary before the organization can move into its larger home.
The donation by the city was prompted by Alderman-at-Large David Deane, who learned that two anonymous donors previously agreed to fork over an additional $100,000 in funds to the soup kitchen if it is able to raise $150,000 by the end of the year.
Deane's proposal was intended to help the soup kitchen reach its challenge, therefore enabling it to receive $100,000 from the city, along with an additional $100,000 from the two mysterious donors.
"There is no fluff," Alderman-at-Large Lori Wilshire said of the soup kitchen's budget, which is mostly raised through donations.She said the soup kitchen is a real asset to the community and provides vital services to the city while keeping residents out of the local welfare office.
Alderman Art Craffey, Ward 4, agreed. If the soup kitchen is not supported, the city's welfare budget will be drained, he said. Craffey suggested that aldermen be proactive in helping the organization achieve its fundraising goal.
"I do support finding a way to help the soup kitchen meet their challenge grant," echoed Mayor Donnalee Lozeau. However, Lozeau told the board that general contingency funds should not be used to help with the initiative.
Instead, she previously recommended that aldermen consider using $67,000 in available Community Development Block Grant funds.
Despite her suggestion, the board ultimately decided to use contingency money instead, in part because of federal regulations placed on CDBG projects that could impact construction labor costs.
"We are really hoping this challenge will spur people in the community to help us. I am totally thrilled, and very optimistic that we will reach the goal," Lisa Christie, executive director of the NSKS, said recently. "We have a very generous community here in Nashua, and we believe that the Nashua Soup Kitchen provides a critical safety net for the residents of the city."
All of the money from the capital campaign will be used to renovate the soup kitchen's future home at 2 Quincy St., the former VFW post. Christie said they would like to begin renovations at the new site in the spring of 2014 but must have all of the necessary funding in place first.