Soupman: ‘It’s just my mission’
Written by Nit-Noi Ricker
BANGOR – Millinocket native Peter Kelleher lost his son, Travis, in a 2016 drug overdose in Bangor, and since then has been working to help those who live on the streets.
“It’s just my mission to help people,” Kelleher said Wednesday standing in the kitchen at the Hope House, a shelter for those with drug and alcohol issues. “As everybody, or most people know, I lost a son to opiates. I couldn’t save his life. I got that phone call I knew I was going to get.”
Kelleher started making soup for homeless people after his son’s death. The Massachusetts resident is now known as “The Soupman” and was in Maine handing out backpacks filled with basic items, and buying boots for those who live on the streets.
“It’s great. He came in on a day our lobby is packed full of people and passed out some needed warm clothes, gloves, toiletries, that type of stuff,” said Boyd Kronholm, Bangor Area Homeless Shelter executive director. “It’s really super that he comes all the way around — up the state and back down again — helping out the homeless.”
“It’s absolutely an extension of our mission,” he added later.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” is how Shaw House case manager Suzanne Flood reacted when Kelleher stopped his big red bus outside the teen shelter’s side door.
Danielle Webb, a Bangor area transient, was on the bus.
“I think he’s pretty great and I think what they’re doing in pretty awesome,” Webb said. “A lot of people could use it this year.”
Webb was one of four locals picked up by The Soupman for a trip to Walmart to get a new boots, her first new pair in around five years.
After leaving the shelter, the bus made its way to the Union Street Brick Church.