The story of Peter Kelleher and his “Support the Soupman” efforts caught the attention of the “Today” show. Al Roker came to Brockton on Friday to watch Kelleher in action, doling out soup to the homeless at Perkins Park.
BROCKTON – The story of “The Soupman” is going national, as he continues to ladle out warm food in downtown Brockton, with a side of compassion.
Famed weatherman and NBC television personality Al Roker came to Brockton on Friday to interview Bridgewater resident Peter Kelleher, better known as “The Soupman,” for an upcoming segment on the “Today” show about his effort to help the homeless, by feeding them cups hot soup, passing out warm clothes, and offering hot showers from a converted trailer. Kelleher said he hopes the national spotlight could help him garner more donations and volunteers for the “Support The Soupman” initiative.
“When I first started this, I didn’t expect any of this,” said Kelleher, who began his initiative by passing soup out to the homeless on Saturdays about two years ago in downtown Brockton. “It’s the beginning of bringing us to another level.”
Kelleher said that the “Today” show segment about his “Support the Soupman” efforts is tentatively expected to air on Wednesday morning. Kelleher said Roker’s crew first came to his house as he prepared a vat of hamburger soup, and then the two were joined by Mayor Moises Rodrigues in downtown Brockton outside Perkins Park, which is known to some as “Needle Park” due to a reputation for drug use by homeless people who gather there. Roker and Kelleher passed out hot cups of soup, and gave out boots to those in need.
“He has a heart,” Kelleher said about Roker. “He was passing stuff out from the back of the bus. It just touched me that this is where it has come.”
Kelleher, 59, said he started his “Support the Soupman” initiative as a result of the death of his son, Travis Kelleher, who was 32 years old when he suffered a fatal opioid overdose as a homeless person living in Bangor. Since then, Kelleher has been able to enlist the support of volunteers and corporate donors, such as Ocean State Job Lot, providing time and donations to accomplish his “simple” mission of “people helping people.”
Earlier this year, Kelleher unveiled the portable shower unit, which he has stationed frequently outside of The Haven community day center for the homeless. The Bridgewater man said his ultimate goal is to get other shower units for all major cities in New England. Kelleher said he’s struggling to set up his portable shower in Boston, after seeking approval from the mayor’s office for specific locations.
“People helping people is pretty simple. That’s where I’m at with this,” Kelleher said. “I just want to help. It’s not acceptable for anybody to have to sleep out in the cold. That’s somebody’s kids. It’s somebody’s child. It’s somebody’s mother. It’s somebody’s father. It’s not fair.”
Kelleher said he’s also establishing a coffee and soup line of products that he wants people to be able to buy in stores in order to fund the “Soupman” effort in the future. That way, Kelleher said, he could dedicate more time to helping the poor on streets, instead of always searching for donations.
“I have to find a way to fund this,” said Kelleher, who is often joined by his dog Koji. “Hopefully, this (appearance on the ‘Today’ show) will pull in some people that that can afford to help.. … This isn’t about Peter Kelleher, in any way shape or form. This is about people helping people.”