“We’re where we’re supposed to be, and we’re going to feed people one good meal every weekday, no questions asked, no one turned away.”
Those were the words of soup kitchen founder, the Rev. Rand Frew, shortly after opening Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen on October 22, 1982. Within the first two months, under Father Frew and with the help of a few volunteers and parishioners, close to 500 hungry and homeless New Yorkers were lining up every weekday morning for a hot meal.
Holy Apostles recently celebrated the life and legacy of Father Frew, who at age 75, passed away last month, after a lifetime of tireless devotion, advocacy, and service to others. In addition to founding the soup kitchen, now the largest in New York State, Father Frew also founded AIDS Action International, a nonprofit foundation furthering the education and understanding of the worldwide aids pandemic. He also worked tirelessly at the site of the World Trade Center collapse site.
“By 1980, the church is one of the oldest buildings on Ninth Avenue. Its membership has dwindled to about a hundred and twenty-five. Basically, it’s dying. Its roof, still the original slate, needs replacing. Leaks have damaged the ceiling, now in danger of falling in. Repairs to the roof would cost half a million dollars. The Right Reverend Paul Moore, Episcopal Bishop of New York, wants to close the church and consolidate its congregation with St. Peter’s. Ronald Reagan is elected President. Government money to help the poor is cut, fewer people have public housing, Chelsea’s single-room-occupancy hotels close. Homelessness becomes a visible New York City problem. Often, people knock on the church’s doors asking for help.
Father Rand Frew, the church’s new, young minister, suggests to the congregation that the church should start a soup kitchen. Father Frew thinks big and has a gift for starting programs. His previous church was in Las Vegas; perhaps a bit of gambling instinct is involved in this idea. The congregation wonders where it will come up with the huge amount of money a daily soup kitchen requires, but it gives the O.K. The consensus is that if Holy Apostles is going out of business anyway it might as well do some good before it does.”
Forty years later, and Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen is still here for anyone who needs us. That is what we were founded to do and that is what we will continue to do. Because we know that when we come together, we can supply one another with what we need, and far more.