Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

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

  1. A beautiful story of generosity…..giving to others when you have nothing. 🙂

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