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‘Shepherd’s In’ sees wider mission

A PLACE TO GO — Curt Moeckel stands outside The Shepherd’s In soup kitchen, located at 95 Downtown Plaza in Fairmont. The kitchen serves people in need from 5-7 p.m. every Thursday night.

FAIRMONT — A little over one year ago, Curt Moeckel had a vision to help the needy, and “The Shepherd’s In” was born.

Moeckel began with a soup kitchen in Fairmont last December but has plans to grow. He discussed his progress and how he hopes the organization will evolve.

“I formed the board in September or October, and our first meal was served on Dec. 29,” he said. “A lot has happened since then, and the ministry has expanded and the vision is growing.

“Our mission statement is to provide assistance that helps people improve their situation, which is very broad. But that’s where we’re at, we want to be that person that fills the gap. There’s a lot of organizations offering a lot of help, but there’s none offering an immediate transition kind of help.

“So people get out of jail and they walk over to Human Services where they apply for different things, but it takes two weeks. Then they leave there and walk over to the mall to fill out other applications and try to get jobs. But they have no where to live.

“They can maybe direct them to the Salvation Army, which has homeless places up in Mankato. So they want to take the people that come there and send them to the shelters, but if it’s a husband and wife they divide them up between the men’s shelter and women’s shelter. So there’s a gap that needs to be filled.

“One of the things I want to do is get a building right next to the Human Services building that would make a very good soup kitchen and homeless center. I would call it a transition center.

“So when they’re coming out of the jail and done all they can do, their next stop would be ‘The Shepherd’s In’ soup kitchen to get a hot meal and a place to put their head for a few days until we can figure out how to get them into something safe.”

Moeckel said fundraising is his immediate goal, noting he would need to raise $100,000 or more.

He is grateful to have already received support from the Lee C. Prentice American Legion Post 36 and the Blazer bar in Fairmont.

“They read an article in the Sentinel last year and they contacted me in January,” he said. “So they met with me and had just recently been given a grant of $1.7 million. The money was to cover veterans, the homeless or needy, and children. So they looked at my soup kitchen and said I had it all covered.

“When I began, I was serving once a month, every Saturday. On June 20, we started serving once a week because the American Legion rented the space at the Blazer Hall at 95 Downtown Plaza. So we serve there every Thursday night from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.”

Moeckel said his faith plays an important role in his vision to help.

“I’m a Christian and I want to reach out with my faith. Now all of a sudden I’m in front of people that need to hear about the Lord all the time. So I talk to them and I tell them if they’re going to get free soup from me, they’re going to hear about the Lord.

“I tell them they have to want it and choose it, but nobody’s going to railroad them because even God himself won’t do that.”

Beyond providing a soup kitchen that will utilize nutritious, fresh, locally grown food, Moeckel says the mission of “The Shepherd’s In” is to support strong family relationships, and the human mind, body and spirit. To do so, he would like to tackle foster care, adoption and other areas where he feels current programs are not working.

Those interested in contacting Moeckel to assist can reach him at theshepherdsin@gmail.com. Those who might need transportation to the kitchen may contact him at (507) 236-5362. The Shepherd’s In also can be found on Facebook.

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