Jusst Sooup Ministry in Lewes Delaware: Extreme Makeover Home Edition

Not in My Backyard

We first introduced you to the Rev. Dale Dunning and her Jusst Sooup Ministry in our August 2011 issue. Freelance writer Michael Short reported on the great work Dunning has done to serve Delaware’s growing homeless population. We loved the story, but did not plan to revisit it—at least not this soon.

That changed when the Emmy Award-winning television show “Extreme Makeover Home Edition” came to Delaware (for the second time), and did its magic on Dunning’s Lewes ranch. The show, which aired on Nov. 18, presented host Ty Pennington leading his crew, along with the local Schell Brothers, in building a palatial home for Dunning and her husband, Ken, as well as one for their son Brooks. Hundreds of local volunteers helped, and when the job was done, the Dunnings had two homes, a massive fruit and vegetable garden and a commercially approved kitchen. The goal was to offer Dunning a more efficient place to prepare soup so that more people could benefit.

Dunning has for years traveled the state to serve soup to the needy. Once the “Extreme” folks came to town, her dream of running a large-scale kitchen to feed more needy families­—in her new digs and elsewhere—became viable.

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That’s where Michael’s second story begins. When news of Dunning’s plans to welcome “outsiders” to the ranch hit the streets, folks were, let’s say, concerned. The six-acre site was zoned agricultural-residential, which allows agriculture and single-family homes to be built, but does not allow food to be served commercially on-site.

But dig deeper. This is not a story about zoning regulations—the Dunnings are dealing with those. This is about the turmoil that’s been brewing among neighbors since the build.

Some of those residents offered supplies and friendship to the Dunnings; others were angered by and fearful of strangers invading the area. Obviously, meetings have been emotionally charged. Certainly as parents, we fear for the safety of our children. But in this situation, are those fears warranted? How do we truly feel about the homeless? Are we willing to help them as long as they don’t come too close? Can we open our doors to people we don’t understand? It’s a scary world, and these are tough questions.

We have no answers. We make no judgments. But we hope we’ve offered you an important issue to think about, and if you are so inspired, do something about.

How do you feel about the Dunning story? Let’s talk about it. Write us at editorial@delawaretoday.com.

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Enjoy the issue.

All the best,



Team Notes

Louise Bolin, Drew Ostroski, Kelly Carter, Jared Castaldi, Katie McCabe and Mark Nardone. Photograph by Jared CastaldiKatie  As I write this, it’s mid-January. The day’s low temperature was 17 degrees, the high 39. And I am lovin’ it. But one look at this month’s events calendar and most humans will be happy to see that, with the promise of a flower show, a home show and an Easter Bunny Express, spring is most definitely on its way.

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Mark  A highlight of every month is going to The Little Shop on the Hill in Wilmington for a haircut from my cousin Gus Parodi. He and his partner Ernie DelleDonne, an old friend of my late father, are great company and some of the best storytellers you’ll ever meet.

Drew  Thanks to WHYY’s “First” crew for making me feel at home during the taping of a segment about our January story, “That Hotel.” Talented host Shirley Min was kind enough to show me how to combat shiny skin (blot the area with paper) and how not to slouch in my cushiony chair. I’m sure that my first Emmy is just around the corner.

Kelly  I accompanied photographer Thom Thompson on our home photo shoot (see page 32) to lend a hand in the styling department. Man, was that a nice house. Nothing over the top, just everything done right, the way everyone wants their home to be. Made me want to go home and paint something … after I watch my DVR’d episodes of “Justified” and “Shameless.”

Louise  It’s only the second week in January and already I feel like this year is flying by and it’s been full of exciting things. If you haven’t seen it, the new Ultimate Guide to Delaware 2012 is out, the newly formatted Delaware Bride will be rolling out shortly and a revamped health issue is in the works! Plus, next month’s issue is our big 50th anniversary issue! Just wow. So keep an eye out for all the exciting things that are happening at Today Media during 2012!

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