Soup Kitchen Boys: A Duo of Hope and Fun

The Soup Kitchen BoysThe Soup Kitchen Boys: Phil (left) plays the guitar while
Erik (right) shares uplifting stories with the Asheville, N.C.,
Support Group.

When you hear the words “soup kitchen,” do you picture two guys and a banjo? Meet Erik Nordgren and Phil Preston: two everyday American men who have found harmony in their lives as the singing duo, the Soup Kitchen Boys.

Erik is a PH patient, and Phil is also coping with a chronic lung disease. Erik, a retired pastor and storyteller, met Phil, a musician, at a “Better Breathers” meeting. The two men found commonalities in each other and decided to create a singing and storytelling duo that would travel to support group meetings and offer their joy and cheer.

Liz Brigham, leader of the Asheville, N.C., support group, describes having the duo perform at her meeting in May. “They sang uplifting folk songs, and the group loved it! Our members loved it so much that they would run out to their cars to change their oxygen and come right back in. It was a jam-packed meeting. Everyone was singing!”

Erik told stories about having a positive attitude and how that can really shape your perspective about living with such a condition. He shared personal experiences with the group, saying that although the road may seem tough at times, carry on and keep fighting. He also sang while Phil strummed along.

Erik says the mission of the Soup Kitchen Boys is to entertain and encourage those who are experiencing a loss of physical vibrancy. “We know firsthand that loss can lead to depression and further medical complications,” he says. To counteract this, Erik and Phil have taken it upon themselves to bring positive messages, especially to people struggling with issues that compromise their quality of life.

The Soup Kitchen Boys came to the Asheville group at the right time. Liz says the group had recently experienced the loss of a devoted member and were caught in a whirlwind of grief. “One of our members had died only about 10 days before this meeting,” she says. It came as a surprise, then, when this woman’s husband and son came to the meeting and joined in the singing. “I was shocked to see them, to say the least. But the singing and cheerfulness of the meeting helped us with our sadness and grief,” she says.

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2012 issue of Pathlight.

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