KALAMAZOO, MI — For some of the unhoused in Kalamazoo, there’s a guaranteed hour of hospitable living available every week. Sixty minutes of eating good food in a comfortable setting with friends, acquaintances, and very attentive servers. This gathering occurs every Wednesday downtown at Kalamazoo’s First Presbyterian Church.

Starting at 5 p.m., up to 100 mostly unhoused people enter the church’s pleasant dining room through the parking lot’s red doors to enjoy a hot entrée, vegetables, salad, rolls, dessert, and coffee. Everything is free and is prepared by about 15 enthusiastic volunteers, most of them members of the congregation.

Other organizations give meals to needy people but First Presbyterian’s focus is different. To many of those who come each week, the gatherings are affectionately called the Red Door Dinners.

“The food is not the primary goal of the evening,” says Meredith Alspach, the church’s director of youth, families, and outreach. “We want to give them a meal because they need it, but it’s the fellowship, the time together.

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