Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

Archive for June, 2013|Monthly archive page


In Guest stories, Who, where, how? on June 29, 2013 at 11:31 am


Facebook. What is this thing called Facebook?

I have never been more confused and frustrated. Many of my friends and family talk about FB like it is the greatest. I signed on to it about six weeks ago out of curiosity and desire to be on the bandwagon. Now what am I supposed to do? I have no clue. I took Facebook for Dummies out of the library and my confusion is deeper than ever.

“Poke,” “Friend,” “Unfriend,” “Ignore,” “Accept,” “Wall.” What do all these words mean? It’s like learning a new language. I hesitate to click on these words for fear of letting a virus or God-knows-what into my computer.

Don’t these people on Facebook have anything better to do? I can’t believe the stupid stuff they post, and the photos, videos, and links they attach. Get a life, everyone!

One of my friends, whom I have known for nearly 35 years, is so chatty I don’t have to call or e-mail her to find out everything she and her family are up to. I feel like telling her, “Margie, enough already… You are telling the world too much.”

While looking at my Wall two nights ago, I discovered a posting from FB that said I had blocked one of my cousins twice that day. I did no such thing, and quickly e-mailed her to set things straight. Why did this happen? Again, I have no clue.

In spite of all this, FB does have its good side. I have reconnected with two nieces I had lost contact with. I joined a group of my former high school classmates. It’s great to see all these names and faces again. At this point in our lives, many are marrying off their children and becoming grandparents. But do I need to be reminded that I am now in that age category? I am ready to opt out.

By Lois Skaretka


They Say, I Say

In Stories, secrets & dreams on June 29, 2013 at 10:00 am


My grandmother always says, “A watched pot never boils.” She says they say that. I always wonder, Who’s they? – like in the news they always refer to unknown sources. I say watch for a pot to boil and it will always happen. The water becomes hot after a time, so it will boil, whether you watch it or not. Or when you were a kid and you got yourself in trouble, to say, “Step on a crack, break your mama’s back.” She trips over your shoe you left out carelessly instead of putting it away, they you say mama broke her toe because of that silly saying. There are many more they say, too numerous to list. But I say, analyze them, put them in a reality context. You will see they are a bunch of crock.

By George Cousins

How to be a Man

In Stories, secrets & dreams, The worst of times on June 28, 2013 at 4:31 pm


That day he left, we spoke and he reassured me upon his arrival back home in a series of months. Explaining how things will all be made up to me, starting with a visit to the local church that I took a new liking to.  With that promise along I was extremely excited.  Thomas also promised to bring home flowers for mama and he stressed how important it was this time for me not to spoil it.  I don’t know if it’s just me, I find it’s so difficult to keep secrets but for Thomas I’d do anything.

I remember mama would walk in our room and snap pictures of us in an attempt to catch us off guard. It kind of bothered me a little but Thomas being the oldest, enjoyed every moment of it so I had to roll with the punches.  I can still hear mama’s voice going on and on at family outings about how proud she was of the big step Thomas was taking.  He remained calm with that glare in his eyes that he’s had ever since I can remember.  Still remaining quiet while uncle Pete made a huge deal about it to everyone else.

All the kids in class had a favorite celebrity, but not me, my celebrity was Thomas.  Even the way he ironed those creases in his uniform to perfection, took tons of talent. I’ve even tried doing it to my school clothes but he’d noticed me struggling and step in to give me a hand. After he had began his journey I would try to get into the things that he used to do in the room like all those pushups. But again for some reason after five or six of them my tiny body would shut down.

I still have nightmares about that cold morning mama received a call that was shortly followed by the arrival of the American flag. The sunrise that morning was so cold mama set out two sweaters for me to wear beneath my coat and two pairs of socks to wear inside my boots. I didn’t really understand at the time because I was only six. When mama told me that the only God that created every beautiful thing had taken my big brother to Heaven, I felt happy. I thought that meant he got a promotion at work or something.

It was only later I began to realize the emptiness that held the house hostage. Mama took all his things out of the room except for the photos. I’d always imagined him knocking and shouting through the door while holding flowers in his hand for mama.

“Are you ready, Clyde? Let’s take a walk to the church.”

But as the years went by, that day never came to pass. I knew he was there, but I couldn’t see him. I felt him watching but if I would speak to him about things I felt the world would’ve pronounced me as crazy. Therefore I remained silent.

It was only six years after his flag was received in our home and mama was a new person – stronger than ever. The tears had faded away with the course of time. But my heart was pierced, the wound was infected as felt as if it didn’t wanna heal.  What can I do but continue to move forward to the horizon that was promised in the morning and meet up with my new best friend Richie in the school yard.  Anxiously waiting for another four years to pass so I can work during the summer at Richie’s dad’s barber shop maybe sweeping or something.  Just to give mama the same hand Thomas gave in the house.

By Matthew Feliciano

Our Soup Kitchen Chefs

In Soup Kitchen Stories on June 27, 2013 at 7:00 pm


Starting at 9am, the soup kitchen is bustling – staff and volunteers are arriving and preparing for the busy day ahead. Volunteer coordinators are assigning volunteers to various tasks, various organizations and services are setting up tables to provide resources for our guests, and volunteers are putting on their gloves, hats, and aprons. But for the soup kitchen chefs, their workday started hours before, at 6am.

Every single weekday, the soup kitchen chefs prepare meals for more than 1,000 hungry New Yorkers. David Soto and Jerry Brady have both been employed as full time chefs at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen since 2011, and Carlton Nesbit became a full time chef in May 2013. The newest additions to the team are our interns, Rah-Shon Hardy and Deborah Jones, who joined the soup kitchen community in June 2013.

Jerry, David, and Carlton worked in the Doe Fund Ready, Willing & Able project and completed the Culinary Training Program, while Rah-Shon and Deborah are still working toward completing the program. Driven by the simple premise that work works, Ready, Willing & Able ends devastating cycles of homelessness, incarceration, and addiction through paid transitional work and training, safe and comfortable housing, education, job placement, and lifelong graduate resources.

With the generous support of the Oak Foundation, a groundbreaking recent evaluation by Harvard University’s renowned criminal justice expert, Dr. Bruce Western, found that Ready, Willing & Able graduates are 60% less likely to be convicted of a felony within three years of their release from incarceration when compared to a matched control group. Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen works in partnership with the Doe Fund and regularly offers culinary internships to Ready, Willing & Able participants.

The soup kitchen chefs are vital – they prepare all the food so that we can continue to serve every guest that walks through our door. It’s thanks to their early mornings, hard work, and dedication that our guests have delicious and nutritious food to eat!


In Poetry on June 27, 2013 at 9:09 am


With all the superpowers
in the world – U.S. – China – Japan – etc.
why is there still a
shortage – of medicine, food, shelter,

On paper you might
be super – your conduct
says otherwise.

Society today looks
at the minus & plus.

Backroom deals are
made every day.

Violations are normal
in most organizations.
Penalties are considered
As just desserts.

Where do the Bill of Rights,
the Constitution of the
United State of
come into play in
these superpowers?

By Fred D. Street

Voice of a Donor… Alicia

In Soup Kitchen Stories on June 26, 2013 at 3:01 pm


Founder and owner of her own production company, director and producer of 11 short films, one feature film and critically acclaimed series ‘What Can You Do’, Alicia Arinella is not someone who would strike you as being nervous. And yet, as she walked into the soup kitchen to begin her first day volunteering, that’s exactly how she was feeling.

‘We’d been looking for something we could do as an office team and we found the soup kitchen,’ she remembers. ‘I really wanted to help but I’d never done anything like this. I didn’t know what to expect, plus I can be really picky about table manners…’

As fate would have it, Alicia was put on table duty, the role with most interaction with our guests. In the busy flurry of a January morning with over 1,200 meals served, any time to notice table manners was soon forgotten, and in only two short hours, Alicia felt she had a life changing experience.

‘Everyone was just so nice,’ Alicia recalls. ‘Everyone I smiled at, smiled back. People thanked me all the time. The people I saw around the tables were not who I expected to see in a soup kitchen. The whole experience just blew me away.’

Shortly after her morning volunteering, Alicia decided to donate. She sold some books on Amazon and donated the profits to the soup kitchen. As the months passed, she found herself donating more – more money, more time, more attention. A little over a year on, Alicia has made a series of videos promoting the soup kitchen, spear headed several social media drives and continues to be a generous donor. Oh, and she types up work from the writers’ workshop as well.

‘It’s kind of an addiction, I admit it,’ she says, laughing. ‘I just love the soup kitchen and what you guys do. As I got to know it better, I grew to love it more. It’s a well oiled machine that doesn’t feel like a machine at all. I’m proud to be a part of it.’

Like most New Yorkers, Alicia encounters the problems of homelessness and hunger in her daily life, which she finds reinforces her connection with the soup kitchen. ‘Walking through midtown, riding the subway – these issues are ones I see all around me,’ she says. ‘I’ve been given a lot of opportunity in my life. You can think you’re immune to these problems but we’re all only ever a step away from a terrible phonecall that can change our lives forever. It’s so important to give back.’

Leo’s Story

In Soup Kitchen Stories on June 21, 2013 at 3:23 pm


When the recession hit a few years ago, Leo was laid off from his job.

As a young hard-working man, he hadn’t had much time to build his savings. Once his unemployment insurance ran out, Leo found himself on the streets. That’s when he came to Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen.

“Without the soup kitchen my nutrition would suffer and myself and many others would have poor health. I know the budget is tight here, but so many people rely on this place in the city,” Leo told me.

Leo’s words ring so true.

As we gear up for the busy months ahead and welcome more and more guests, I want to tell you more about Leo. He is more than just a soup kitchen guest. Leo is a hero and each May 15th, we honor him.

On May 15th last year, after Leo ate at the soup kitchen, he walked over towards the park by the Hudson River past the West Side Highway. Along the river, he noticed a teenage boy with an older man.

“There was something odd about it, so I kept my eye on them. The man told me to leave them alone, but I didn’t want to leave the boy –- who looked scared. I stayed until the man eventually split. He left this kid on his own,” Leo recounted.

The boy was Joey, an autistic 15-year-old student with very limited language capabilities, who somehow managed to leave his school. He had never even crossed a street by himself prior to this day, but somehow wandered quite a distance on his own.

Joey started heading back towards the highway, after the other man left. Leo asked the boy where home was, but Joey didn’t respond. Leo told the boy to wait and he would get help to take him home. That’s when Leo called 911 and he waited for the police, who knew that the boy was missing from his school. Joey’s mother was so grateful. After being reunited with Joey, his mother asked the name of person who helped her son and set up a time to meet with him.

“It was so emotional meeting Leo. He was so kind and compassionate to Joey. If it wasn’t for him, I might never have seen my son again.” Leo dismisses his actions –- saying that anyone would have done the same thing. So when Joey’s mother offered Leo a reward, he said he’d rather that reward money go to Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen.

Perhaps Leo is right; anyone would have helped the boy. But Leo, who is homeless, didn’t take the reward. He gave his reward to us, so that other hungry and homeless New Yorkers could benefit too.

Leo’s story reminds us of the impact one person can make with generosity and kindness. At Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, we are so proud to help Leo – and others like him – get back on their feet.

The Reverend Glenn B. Chalmers
Executive Director


In Guest stories on June 21, 2013 at 2:51 pm


Elena never did like the stuffiness of indoors. Her son knew this, and still he insisted on having her too doped up to get out of bed. She wasn’t an invalid who needed a candystripper to pump up her pillow every hour. The day nurse had left. She hadn’t noticed that Elena didn’t swallow her pills. “They are all just waiting for the ambulance to come, to deliver me to the morgue. HA! That’s a gag.” Elena carefully rolled on her side and pushed herself up, while surprising stealthily swinging her still shapely legs over the edge of the bed. She then used the nearby night table to hoist herself to standing, and gingerly shuffled to her wheelchair, Elena had to admit that just the meager act had left her wiped. No matter, she’d rather be exhausted by self-determination, than to be taken away on a gurney. After all the whole idea of being at the lake house was to take in the scenery; to finally have peace.

Greg had always been a kind person, but as an adult, he was overtly-doting, to the point of being overbearing. He was Elena’s only child, so she had tolerated his attention. Now though, she had to show him that he could let go, it was time.

She rolled out of the open, sliding doors, down the ramp, to the bench where they had spent many summer days of his youth feeding ducks. She closed her eyes and waited for Greg to come.

By Stephanie Lawal

Photo credit: mjs_2009

Meditation with Renate

In Soup Kitchen Stories on June 1, 2013 at 3:32 pm


Once a month, Renate holds up a sign in the back of the soup kitchen, reading “Meditation – Food for the Soul – Come & join us today at 12:45pm” She started a meditation class at the soup kitchen 6 years ago, 2 years after she began volunteering here, on a weekly basis. Initially, a friend of hers invited her to come volunteer at the soup kitchen – she loved it, and has stuck around ever since as a loyal and dedicated volunteer.

“The soup kitchen is such a warm and welcoming community. I love helping people, and volunteering at the soup kitchen is so rewarding.”

Renate started meditating twenty nine years ago as a member of Science of Spirituality (www.sos.org). Her brother told her about meditation in 1980, and soon after he started his meditation practice, she noticed a very positive change in her brother – he became peaceful and lost his stress as a businessman.

Her passion for meditation combined with her background give her the perfect credentials to lead meditation classes at the soup kitchen. Renate is a retired psychotherapist with a doctoral degree in Sociology of Adult Education. She was born in Austria, but lived in the Netherlands for 20 years and also lived in Paris and Rome before coming to the United States with her husband, who’s a psychiatrist.

“The soup kitchen is the perfect place for me to share the essentials of Light Meditation. The guests often spend so much time in the busy city streets. Meditation is a great way for them to relax and find inner fulfillment,” Renate said.

Renate is involved in a number of volunteer jobs around the city, including giving a meditation talk at public libraries, volunteering at a children’s camp, organizing a senior camp, providing pastoral care in a nursing home, leading weekly meditation classes in the Bronx, and more.

“I’m happy and joyful,” she explains. “If we learn to focus within, everyone can be happy and joyful despite all the difficult things going on in the world around us.”

Our Family Tradition

In Guest stories on June 1, 2013 at 2:30 pm


The family tradition that stands out in my mind from my growing-up years is not attached to a holiday. It was Sunday. I was raised in a Christian home and Saturday night was all about getting ready for Sunday. We were a churchgoing family and I attended Sunday school, where my father was the superintendent and my mother a teacher. I remember her getting my clothes ready for Sunday, setting my hair in bobby pins and putting me under a bonnet hair dryer. She would then do her own hair and nails. My dad would get his suit ready, shine his shoes, and look over all the lessons of all levels of the Sunday school in case a teacher did not show up and he had to teach a class at the last minute. Then he would go over my lesson with me to make sure I had it correct. This went on for years, until I was old enough to do my own hair and no longer needed my lessons checked.

After church, the rest of Sunday was a leisurely day, usually an outing when it was sunny. Sunday night was quiet also – a simple supper to give Mom a break on cooking, and then we would watch Lassie or The Twilight Zone, then Ed Sullivan. This may sound like a very boring time, not exciting at all, but I don’t feel that way. The memory is a fond one. My father died when I was 16 and I am very glad to have this memory of a family tradition.

By Lois Skaretka