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Heaven's Helpers Soup Cafe volunteers, from left, Theresa Martel, Michelle Fitterer and Winifred Heinen prepare the salad bar on Monday morning. "I come here to volunteer as often as I can. I'm retired so I like to do something with my time that's worthwhile," Martel said.

Mark Meier has been tenacious in his efforts to help the less fortunate. When he first opened Heaven’s Helpers Soup Cafe in a small space on Memorial Highway in 2009, he offered free soup and sandwiches for those in need or anyone who visited.

He relied on donations and volunteers to operate his soup cafe. It was his labor of love and a way to share his faith. 

By the time he closed his Memorial Highway location in May 2015, he was serving 100 to more than 200 people six days a week. He pursued a larger facility closer to the people who need his services. In January 2018, he reopened at 220 N. 23rd St. in Bismarck. 

This time, he has more space to work with and has expanded his services. The soup cafe still counts on volunteers and donations to remain open. 

“We need about 28 volunteers every day just to be able to make this run,” Meier told the Tribune recently. And that’s become a problem as people have less time because of warmer weather activities such as vacations. The soup cafe needs more volunteers to remain open during dinner hours. 

Volunteers work two-hour shifts with duties including preparing food, waiting tables and cleaning up. To help requires a commitment of time, but volunteers say they get a lot of satisfaction in helping. 

There are other services available in Bismarck-Mandan like The Banquet and food pantries. The food cafe is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day but Sunday. That adds up to a lot of volunteer hours. 

Heaven’s Helpers, The Banquet and others count on groups volunteering and providing a number of volunteers at one time. So there’s a fair amount of demand in the Bismarck-Mandan community for volunteers. We are lucky to have a lot of people providing time to a variety of services. 

It’s not always easy to find time in our busy schedules that involve work, school, church activities and family events to volunteer. However, it would be a shame if Heaven’s Helpers has to reduce its hours. It’s where some go for their daily meals. 

Meier and his supporters have been tireless in their efforts to provide services for those who are less fortunate or need a place to socialize. Meier also likes to share his religious beliefs, but that’s not a requirement for going to the food cafe.

The Tribune has been impressed over the years with Meier’s efforts and gave him a Tribune Award in January. He was nominated for the award by members of the community who believed his accomplishments should be recognized. The Tribune agreed.

The Tribune encourages those who can help Heaven’s Helpers or any of the other groups in need of volunteers to do so. Sometimes government help is necessary, but it’s always best when the community helps itself.

Editor's note: In a June 6 editorial, the Tribune erred in reporting that North Dakota veteran Bob Feland was at the D-Day landing. Scott Nelson, who interviewed Feland for a veteran history project in 2004, said Feland made numerous amphibious landings during World War II but not the Normandy landing.

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