Food and frolic offered Wednesdays at ministry

Staff reporter

It's summertime.

Older children may be left on their own while their parents work.

Younger children may have teen babysitters who provide companionship and supervision.

For some children and their parents, meals may be difficult to provide because of the rising cost of living.

In an effort to support families and provide at least one meal a week, Main Street Ministries at 415 S. Main, Hillsboro, and local churches are providing a free noon meal every Wednesday in the ministries yard.

Debbie Oelke is an organizer of the event. This is the second summer for the activity which started the first Wednesday in June and will continue until the first Wednesday of August.

"It gives kids something to do," she said.

In addition to a hot dog lunch with chips, carrot sticks, ice cream sandwiches, and a cool drink, the Christian band, i268, has performed numerous times.

Between 40 and 50 children and adults stop by the Main Street location for a free meal, music, and fellowship.

Following the meal, the children cool off with a playful water balloon fight.

Local Hillsboro churches have taken turns in providing food and volunteers to set up and serve the meal.

So, why is it located on the Main Street Ministries property?

"The dream started here. That's why it's here," Main Street Ministries Director Lillian Bookless said.

Although she is grateful for the participation from churches and volunteers, she would like to see the event expanded.

"There are some families in the area who could benefit from free meals," Bookless said, but the free noon meal is for any child, or adult, in the community.

The ministry can house up to 30 adults and children. Since February, only adult females and children have been accepted, who traditionally have been the majority of the residents.

Supported by local organizations and churches, Main Street Ministries began in 1991. Bookless has been the director for the past 10 years.

"This is a place for women to catch their breaths and take a break," Bookless said, sometimes from dangerous relationships.

Since the apartment complex and ministry does not accept any government funding, the mission of the ministry can be to serve those who are in the most need of shelter.

The building was constructed in the early 1900s and began as Salem Hospital. Since that time it has been a nursing home, apartment complex, and even used as dormitories by Tabor College.

Bookless said just recently, her four staff members resigned and moved on to other projects, leaving her and the ministry somewhat in limbo.

"We'll see what God has planned for us in the coming months," she said.

While most Tabor College students are at home, working, or doing other things away from campus, members of the Christian band, i268, are touring as part of the summer season.

The band's name is from Isaiah 26:8, "Indeed while following the way of Your judgments, O Lord, we have waited for You eagerly. Your name, even You memory, is the desire of our souls."

Divided into three seasons, the college supports musical groups to spread the Word of God through song to various churches and events.

The musicians live on campus during the summer. The group continues to cycle in new members as other members graduate from the college. This particular group has been playing together since the beginning of summer but sound like seasoned veterans.

Their musical talents have been showcased several Wednesdays during the free meal on the Main Street Ministries lawn, performing contemporary Christian songs.

Members of the band include vocalist and keyboardist Kayla Vix of Wichita, lead singer and guitarist Brandon Voth of Lyndon, Wash., drummer Mitch Friesen of Newton, guitarist Darren Enns of Hillsboro, bassist Graham Faul of Harvey, N.D., musician Micah Willson of Amarillo, Texas, and soundman Aaron Epp of Henderson, Neb.