In This Issue
- Voice of a guest…Willie & Trace
- Voice of a guest…Erin
- Soup Kitchen by numbers…
- From Farm to Tray
- Voice of a volunteer…Edward
- Bite Sized
Voice of a guest…Willie & Trace
Willie and Trace married in April. During the two years they’ve been together, they’ve faced challenges both as individuals and as a couple. A few months into their lease on their first apartment together, they were forced to leave as the building was unsafe. That’s when they came to Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen.
“This place has a lot of good services,” Trace says. “We went to support groups and learned a lot about finding a place to live. When we didn’t have any place to go, we could come here, where we had good food and could warm up.”
Willie had been homeless before and has relied on Holy Apostles through many phases of his life. Kicked out of home at 17, Willie came from L.A. to New York to find his father, a man he hardly knew. Unfortunately, it was not the reunion Willie had dreamed of and with nowhere left to turn, he found himself homeless.
[blockquote align=”none”]Sometimes I needed to cry, but I couldn’t cry outside. I used to sit right next to the piano player – I could cry there. I listened to the piano and just heard the peacefulness. I needed that.[/blockquote]
It was a painful time and Willie recalls how coming to the soup kitchen provided nourishment for his soul, as well as his body.
“Sometimes I needed to cry, but I couldn’t cry outside,” he recalls. “I used to sit right next to the piano player – I could cry there. I listened to the piano and just heard the peacefulness. I needed that. You can see it in other people’s faces too – they’ll have their spoon right up to their face and they’ll stop and listen to his playing. Sometimes the whole place will quiet down and just listen for a few moments.”
In an effort to numb his pain, Willie had turned to drugs and alcohol and one of our counselors secured a referral to an inpatient treatment center to help him treat his addiction. After a few false starts, he committed to a three year program which helped him stay clean and sober and develop work skills. Today, Willie has a job delivering pastries for a catering company.
While the couple’s future is still uncertain, Willie is grateful for his sobriety, his job, the soup kitchen and, of course, his relationship with Trace. “Trace said, ‘stay straight or hit the door’,” he says smiling. “She keeps me on track.”
For Trace, the soup kitchen gives her hope for the future, for their future together: “It’s been good for us. You come in here and you know that God is really here. God is in everyone here. There are strong people around us.”
Voice of a guest…Erin
Erin first came to Holy Apostles in 2012 when she fell upon tough times. “At that point in my life, I was feeling bitter, rejected and lonely,” Erin shares. “But I felt really embraced by Holy Apostles. Everyone welcomed me. There is always a hot meal available here and the food is great.”
Erin didn’t want to publish the details of the circumstances that brought her here, but she was more than willing to talk about how coming to the soup kitchen helped her through these difficult times.
“Holy Apostles helps in more ways than offering food. It’s a place where I feel resilient and grateful,” Erin tells me. “Coming here helped me to understand that others are going through similar situations. Having the chance to talk about my life and hear from others really helped me a lot.”
Thanks to the support she found here, Erin’s life is getting back on track. She is grateful to everyone who has helped her along the way.
“I’m doing a lot better now than I was before, so I don’t come here often now,” Erin says, smiling. “I’m so thankful to everyone who’s helped me. The people who donate and volunteer here really saved my life.”
Giving back is an important part of Erin’s healing: “I do what I can to give back. I know what it’s like to be in desperate circumstances and I do what I can to be there for people who need help.”
Soup Kitchen by numbers…
The second annual soup kitchen guest survey was conducted on April 24th 2014 to help us understand more about our guests and how best to meet their needs. A year on from our first survey, we can see the impact of cuts to food stamp programs and other benefits and how more new veterans coming home are relying on the soup kitchen. Perhaps most worrying of all is the continued upward trend in unemployment among our guests, despite a recovering economy here in New York City…
From Farm to Tray
Our second annual From Farm to Tray benefit was held on May 15th 2014.
Bigger and better than ever, this year we had more chefs preparing more delicious food, more guests, and, most importantly, more dollars raised.
“From the chefs to sponsors, guests to volunteers – we’re so grateful to all who supported our wonderful event,” says Executive Director, Father Glenn Chalmers. “We raised even more than last year and this will go a long way towards helping us meet the growing need here at the soup kitchen.”
This year’s guest list included leading names from all walks of life in New York including Susan Ungaro, President of the James Beard Foundation and our long term supporter Susan Sarandon who stopped by to talk with Father Glenn about our work and also to sample the wonderful food on offer!
For more photos of the 2014 event, visit our Facebook page and check out the From Farm to Tray album. www.facebook.com/holyapostlessoupkitchen
Voice of a volunteer…Edward
“A man makes better decisions on a full stomach,” says volunteer Edward White. “You can stop and think, at least for a minute.”
Having first come to Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen as a guest, Edward – who has a graduate degree in criminal psychology – knows what he’s talking about. A heart attack had left him $100,000 in debt and on the verge of homelessness. It was a scary time for Edward and one that he feels helps him relate to guests.
“I know the feeling of homelessness. You have so much stuff, what’s going to happen to it? It’s a big weight.”
Edward found more than a hot meal at the soup kitchen and he credits the “teamwork at Holy Apostles” for helping keeping his hope alive. Being able to volunteer and serve others helped rebuild his confidence, as well as take his mind off his own issues.
Today, Edward has a permanent place to call home as well as regular employment but he still finds time to volunteer and has racked up an impressive 1,000 hours on the serving line.
“People get caught in categories,” Edward reflects, “everybody gets at least one opportunity to change their life. You’ve got to do your homework.”
For Edward, his “homework” has been showing up, giving back and reaching out to help others to help as he was helped in his time of need. And we feel lucky that he’s chosen to do that here.
Fast-a-thon 2014 – are you hungry for change? Go hungry on Thursday November 20th so someone else won’t have to. By eating only one meal that day – as many of our soup kitchen guests do every day – you will not only be showing your solidarity for hungry people everywhere, but helping to raise money too! For more information and to sign up contact Yvonne Cassidy at 646-998-6103 or [email protected]
It’s Broadway on Ninth Avenue! Over the summer, guests have been entertained while they dine by top Broadway stars from the cast of Les Misérables and Violet. In between numbers, these energetic performers have been volunteering too – cleaning tables, emptying trays and serving meals which has made for a fun and interactive atmosphere that has even led to some guest participation. Plans are being made for a regular series later in the year and we’ll share more information as it happens! Thanks to Pump SportsEnt and all the performers for all their wonderful support.
Soup kitchen stories Everyone who comes to the soup kitchen has a story. Our brand new website showcases some of these and provides more indepth information for guests and volunteers. Check it out at www.holyapostlessoupkitchen.org and let us know what you think!