Cooking Up Soap as Ministry

Anita Joldersma says she was “bitten by the laundry soap bug.” For this member of Immanuel Christian Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ont., soap is her passion and also her ministry through a program called The Soap Kitchen. 

Joldersma’s free workshops, held each month at her church, teach participants how to make affordable and natural laundry soap. Using a recipe from Environment Hamilton, a government agency, her soap costs mere pennies per load. After learning how to make this simple soap made from borax, glycerin, and washing soda, participants can take a batch home. 

Through her ministry, Joldersma has met many different people from various walks of life. She has helped single mothers and people who have recently immigrated. She held a workshop for parents whose children attended Immanuel’s vacation Bible school. She also runs a monthly workshop for seniors along with her regular community workshop. Some people come to learn a natural alternative to commercial soap, but there are others desperate to save money. 

“There are people who come to The Soap Kitchen who are really struggling,” explained Joldersma, telling about attendees could not afford laundry soap and had piles of dirty clothes waiting until they brought the free soap home.

In the two years that she has offered The Soap Kitchen, there are always willing participants. One woman showed up and then asked Joldersma if she would come to her apartment complex and teach more women there. Not only does Joldersma love teaching others about soap-making, but these workshops also open doors to witness about her faith.

“Working together in the kitchen, you get to talk about home and money and where you get support. Sometimes those conversations can lead to talking about the church and what I believe,” said Joldersma. 

The Soap Kitchen grew out of Joldersma’s involvement as leader with Home with a Heart, a nationwide program designed to help people manage their homes more effectively. She started The Soap Kitchen in 2015; in August, she received government funding through a provincial Trillium Grant to continue her work. 

“I encourage people to find something that they are passionate about,” said Joldersma. “It took me a long time to find this, and I have so much fun doing this!”

Anita Joldersma stirs up soap at a CoffeeBreak demonstration. Anita Joldersma uses inexpensive ingredients for her natural laundry soap.

About the Author

Krista Dam-Vandekuyt is the Banner’s regional news correspondent for classis Hamilton.