The Soup Lady

Minneapolis. Just south of downtown. The Powderhorn Park community is a vibrant place, lying east of I-35W. Home to the Minneapolis Institute of Art museum, the Hennepin History Museum and a host of Latin eateries serving food potent enough to curl a grown man’s toenails.

You’ll also notice all the George Floyd pictures in the area. The Floyd portraits are painted on vertical surfaces, mounted on walls, hanging everywhere. That’s because George Floyd Square is located just down the road.

“Powderhorn has a homelessness problem,” says one local resident. “It’s a real issue in Minneapolis.”

Which is an understatement. Recently, one of the many homeless encampments in Powderhorn Park was recently shut down because it was home to some 300 tents. And that’s just one camp. There are more. In fact, there are nearly 20 homeless shelters within a five mile radius.

Which leads us to Miss Linda.

Seventy-year-old Miss Linda Taylor has been living in this area and volunteering with homeless shelters for upwards of 19 years. People know her as “The Soup Lady,” from her years spent sweating in the trenches called soup kitchens.

She is every little old woman you’ve met. She lives in a little two-story bungalow with a modest garden out back. She’s the kind of woman who names her houseplants and sings classic rock as she waters.

She has raised five kids. A passel of grandkids. And now she is helping raise a flock of great-grandkids.

Miss Linda wears a perpetual smile, and within her smile lines you can tell what kind of life she has lived. A life of service.

So you can imagine what a cruel blow it was when The Soup Lady got news that she was about to be evicted. The news came with no forewarning, no apologies, just a notice informing her that her fundaments were about to be tossed onto the cold Minnesota asphalt.

So she went to the neighbors for help. The local reaction surprised her.

“I just talked to one person,” said Miss Linda, “and that one person said, ‘There’s no way, Miss Linda, that you are gonna move.’”

Things snowballed after the neighbors got wind of things. And by “snowballed,” I of course mean that the neighbors completely freaked out. And by “freaked,” I mean that her Powderhorn Park constituents were infuriated. Outraged. Incensed. Exasperated. Ticked. Hacked off. Miffed. Fill in the verb.

“Miss Linda has been an institution in this neighborhood,” said her neighbor, Andrew Fahlstrom. “She knows everyone, she is the friendliest person in a five-block radius, and everyone knows who she is, so I really couldn’t let it happen.”

“She’s such a good person,” said another neighbor. “We couldn’t let this go down.”

“Lotta good people in this neighborhood,” said Steven Smith, longtime neighbor, “she’s one of the brighter stars in it.”

“Miss Linda is a staple here. She isn’t going anywhere.”

Simply put, it would be a cold day in Disney World before Miss Linda lost her house.

After four months of coordinated neighborly demonstrations, including two neighborhood block parties, fundraisers, art shows, bake sales, online fundraisers and a letter autographed with over 400 signatures, Miss Linda received more donations than she could shake a ladle at.

Money came from all over the U.S. Anonymous donors were sending cash and checks wherever they could mail them. Money came online. Money arrived in neighborhood mailboxes. Money was even making its way to the Lyndale United Church of Christ, who was receiving donations for Miss Linda by the metric ton.

Eventually, Miss Linda was told she had the option to purchase her house before the end of June. Which was a major win. But there was still a lot of work to be done, and not much time to do it.

So her fan club took to the streets. Her real-estate agents worked pro bono. Her friends told Miss Linda’s story to anyone who could fog up a mirror. And as of a few weeks ago, Miss Linda’s neighbors and supporters had raised over a quarter of a million dollars.

It was enough to buy back her house. It was enough to give a meek elderly woman her life again.

Recently, Miss Linda signed the papers and closed on her home. A block party ensued in Powderhorn Park. People danced, laughed and ate way too many refined carbohydrates. And somewhere in the privacy of her own home, nestled somewhere among the houseplants, Linda wept.

“Makes me feel so good. Everything that I have given is coming back to me.”

Said the Soup Lady.

33 comments

  1. Sandi. - June 15, 2022 7:02 am

    I love heartwarming stories like this one. The world needs more Miss Linda’s and neighbors and friends who love her.

    Reply
  2. Duane - June 15, 2022 9:19 am

    In a world filled with evil it is good to know there are still good people like Ms Linda and her neighbors.

    Reply
  3. Ann Thompson - June 15, 2022 9:32 am

    💐nice to read this….community!

    Reply
  4. Debbie - June 15, 2022 9:40 am

    Awww. Thank you Sean. What an uplifting message.💓

    Reply
  5. Holly - June 15, 2022 10:41 am

    New subscriber here, and I don’t know how I’ve missed this gem of a website all this time. I’ve read every email, every day…and that’s saying something.

    Reply
  6. Paul McCutchen - June 15, 2022 10:49 am

    I needed a good story from you this morning

    Reply
  7. Te - June 15, 2022 11:58 am

    The essence of American people, but a rare-told tale. Most people are too modest, but these people are the root of America. HOpe you’re feeling better and Jamie didn’t catch it, too. Flu can take weeks to recover.

    Reply
    • Sarah C. - June 15, 2022 3:56 pm

      Didn’t they have Covid?

      Reply
  8. Kathleen I Smith - June 15, 2022 1:02 pm

    You did it again, Sean! I love this story!! It does show us that God is good and He was not going to let Miss Linda get evicted. Not on His watch!! We only have to open our eyes, ears & hearts to show people we care! God bless her neighbors for doing the right thing for a woman that has brought so much joy and love to people everyday!

    Reply
  9. Pennsylvania Dutch Motor Coach Driver - June 15, 2022 1:53 pm

    Great story! There is sooo much good left in our country that is overshadowed by “bad news” happening like this. The only sad part of this story is that it is unusual. In the meantime, much unsung good is going on in small and not so small ways at ground zero. Adam Weaver

    Reply
  10. Anne - June 15, 2022 2:17 pm

    Ecclesiastes 11:1 teaches us that if we are generous, expecting nothing in return, it will come back to us. God
    is ever faithful.

    Reply
  11. James Key - June 15, 2022 2:25 pm

    “You’ll also notice all the George Floyd pictures there.” No, I wouldn’t because I would not be there. Just saying

    And as typical you inserted race into your column (Latin restaurants). Why not also mention the Muslim presence as well? where is your inclusion?

    Reply
    • Susan Foster - June 15, 2022 3:39 pm

      Pay no never mind to critics, Sean. Your stories are inclusive all the time and always have love and hope shining through. Thank you.

      Reply
    • Sarah C. - June 15, 2022 3:55 pm

      James, are you a racist? I’m confused if you want everything white washed or all people mentioned. I’m
      Confused at how you don’t know communities often have ethnic foods and they are often grouped together. Maybe it is time you explored different communities and the restaurants there. Or keep your butt at home and don’t ruin things for the rest of us.

      Reply
    • Harriet White - June 16, 2022 12:12 am

      Yeah, James you are right! He should have mentioned Chinese, Korean, African, Caucasian ,Japanese and Muslim. Because human races are like dog breeds right James?
      Maybe Sean can fill up 3 paragraphs of races to please your narrative. Grow up. This isn’t the place for your political views. There’s a million other sites you can espouse your twisted “race” crap on.

      Reply
  12. artwimberley - June 15, 2022 3:45 pm

    Love this tale of the good there is in people. People do step forward and help others, sometimes we just don’t hear about it because they do it quietly. What a wonderful neighborhood! I’m just saying…

    Reply
  13. Carol Pilmer - June 15, 2022 3:45 pm

    Thanks for sharing another nugget of goodness….Such a great way to start the day….

    Reply
  14. Ginia Wood - June 15, 2022 3:48 pm

    This is the story I need today!

    Reply
  15. Tina C Anderson - June 15, 2022 4:22 pm

    I live in the Twin Cities. I love your good news stories. Is there a way to share this on social media? Facebook? Instagram?

    Reply
  16. janet - June 15, 2022 4:35 pm

    God is good. And so are His people. Blessings to Miss Linda, and peace to all who love her.

    Reply
  17. H. J. Patterson - June 15, 2022 5:35 pm

    Interesting that ordinary people made a difference in this matter and not the government.

    Reply
    • Harriet White - June 15, 2022 9:47 pm

      Yes, as always!

      Reply
  18. Ann - June 15, 2022 6:56 pm

    OhSean, we need these stories….they are out there but we NEED the positive hope NOW,… thank you for sharing this.

    Reply
  19. MAM - June 15, 2022 7:54 pm

    I cried happy tears, too. I love hearing wonderful stories like this one. Keep them coming to continue to give us hope and remind us of all the good people in this world! Thanks, Sean, for your daily messages!

    Reply
  20. Linda Moon - June 15, 2022 9:18 pm

    This “Miss Linda” and some other folks have recently been helping the homeless, but I won’t tell his story here. He still has some pride and a very generous heart for others like him. I’m so very happy to read that good folks helped Miss Linda!

    Reply
  21. Dawnie B - June 15, 2022 9:24 pm

    If Ms Linda is reading this, I would like to thank her and all of her neighbors for showing everybody how it’s done!

    Reply
  22. Jody - June 16, 2022 12:38 am

    Great story. Thanks for your warm inclusive spirit.

    Reply
  23. Judy Tayloe - June 16, 2022 12:33 pm

    To James Key…Stop it, James. Just stop it.

    Reply
  24. Suzanne Millee - June 16, 2022 3:01 pm

    I love this story! There truly is so much good. However referring to Ms.Linda as old and elderly at 70 hurt my feelings. I just know at 70 I don’t feel old or elderly.
    I love your writing Sean~you always make my day better.

    Reply
  25. Paula Thrasher - June 16, 2022 4:00 pm

    Beautiful column, as always, Sean Freaking Dietrich. About a very deserving servant of her community. But I have to go on record as taking offense at your calling “Miss Linda” an “old woman” and “elderly.” As someone who wears 70 proudly, that’s just not right. You’ve got some ‘splaning to do, young man! Your friend and “favorite former AJC woman alive — or otherwise,” Paula Freaking Thrasher🤣

    Reply
  26. Fred Frederick - June 16, 2022 7:31 pm

    I love it when a community and friends come together for a common cause and valiantly overcome obstacles to make a life better for a fellow human.

    Reply
  27. Hugh Burt - June 19, 2022 9:54 am

    I Love it and God’s still on the throne !

    Reply
  28. Joe - June 20, 2022 6:23 pm

    Wonderful to read your stories about good things happening for good people.

    Reply

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