Voice of a Volunteer: Ricky
Ricky was homeless when he first came to Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen for lunch as a guest. “Drugs and drinking were taking a toll on me,” he says. “I was doing that because I was homeless. I had no hope. Everything was gone. When you’re homeless you don’t care about nothing. I numbed the pain of being homeless and hurting inside.”
Through the years, Ricky has faced a lot of loss within his own family, including his own divorce during his mid-twenties. Two of his nine sisters and one of his three brothers have died of HIV related physical and mental complications. Another brother is living with HIV.
“I should be dead,” Ricky says. “I was blessed not to have it because of my own high risk behaviors.”
Like many people without a place to call home, Ricky got to know the streets of New York. He noticed the long line around Holy Apostles Church and learned about the soup kitchen by talking to other guests. As he began eating lunch here on a regular basis, Ricky found acceptance and “a love that was shown by the staff who were walking around and talking to me. The food was good, and a healthy quality” he recalls, “I kept coming back for the food, the service and the good, smiling faces.”
Then, through the support services and counseling offered at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, Ricky received vouchers for clothing, toiletries, phone calls, and even referrals to other places for food and showers.
“I became strong. I was like a dead flower but the love, caring and concern here made me blossom and bloom. Hope started coming back.”
Because of the emotional and practical support he received at the soup kitchen, Ricky had the strength to seek out housing resources on his own through other outlets and find the substance abuse treatment services he needed to continue his road to recovery. In 2010, when his housing situation had stabilized and he was clean and sober he approached our volunteer coordinator to see what he could do to give back.
Today, not only is Ricky a volunteer at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, he has also completed a Manhattan based HIV peer counseling program.
“I believe my calling is to help. This is the lifestyle I came from. I have empathy. I want to be a teacher to the younger generation.”