Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

Archive for October, 2013|Monthly archive page

Norman’s Story

In Guest stories, Keeping hope alive, Soup Kitchen Stories on October 17, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Normans story

A native New Yorker, Norman first came to the soup kitchen eleven years ago when his life spiraled out of control after his mother’s death. Alone and unable to deal with his grief, Norman turned to drugs and alcohol and eventually ended up living on the street, spending nights in Penn Station and Port Authority.

It was during one of these nights that someone told him about Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen.

“This guy told me about this soup kitchen where I could get help,” says Norman. “He asked what my mother would think if she saw me living the way I was and something just clicked.”

Norman knew he would receive a hot meal but he was surprised by how much more was on offer. “I expected a soup kitchen, but it was more than that. This is a package deal, they help with food stamps, assistance, and toiletries. It made me want to come back for more,” Norman recalls. “Holy Apostles has been a stepping stone for me to move on.”

Over the years, Norman has moved on – to sobriety, employment and a stable living situation. “Today, I live in a studio on the Lower East Side and I pay my own bills,” Norman says proudly. “This place helped to do that, they helped me to get off the streets.”

Life in New York City is expensive and Norman regularly comes to the soup kitchen for meals to help manage his budget and also to be part of the community here. He’s inspired to watch others go through the same transition he has been through himself – from life on the streets to a life of meaning and hope.

He smiles broadly when he talks about how it feels for him to be part of the Holy Apostles family. “In New York City not many doors are open but this one is always open. Lives are changed here. When you fall, they pick you back up. There’s love here, there’s hope.”

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Shoes

In Guest stories, Keeping hope alive on October 17, 2013 at 8:06 am

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A man drops a twenty-dollar bill on the ground unknowingly. Someone behind him picks it up and buys what he needs with it. Probably food or a cheap hotel for the night.

Someone throws away a pair of shoes that are in good condition, into the trash. A person who is unfortunately homeless without any good shoes at all may come along and use those shoes as a blessing.

That happened to me. I used to get off the PATH train at the World Trade Center, where I would see a well-dressed man of Caribbean descent. I was wearing a pair of raggedy sneakers that were five years old. One day he asked me, “What size shoes do you wear?” I said, “Size eleven.” I have big feet. A few days later he saw me and handed me a pair of light brown work boots. “Here you are,” is all he said. They weren’t new, but they fit perfectly. Then he was gone. I thought he was an angel.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

By Nelson Blackman

Band of Brothers

In Guest stories, memoir, The worst of times on October 16, 2013 at 4:06 pm

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One thing I learned very fast when I became a veteran was that you can’t explain to civilians what it’s like, if you were never in a uniform yourself. I was in the navy from 1968 to 1972.

It is a little like being in the Mob. Only this mob tries to do good in America. Of course, there are the usual flubs and screw-ups, but overall, the job gets done, no matter how dirty. No matter the loss of personnel.

I feel we can be grateful that we held together as a nation for two hundred years. You can see this during the Civil War. The government’s primary purpose during the war was the preservation of the Union. During the conflict, we lost nearly 40 percent of the male population, both North and South.

I believe that Admiral Yamamoto described us as a “sleeping giant.” He knew what we could achieve when Japanese military people thought us lazy and arrogant in 1941. Enter, also, bin Laden on 9/11.

Today, I think we are struggling against an enemy closer to home – poverty. My own feeling is that the American dollar is not worth the paper it is printed on. Corporate America is pushing the envelope and something is going to burst.

We will eventually come to terms with a more sane economy, but it will take three to five years before some leader will even out the capitalist playing field. The alternative is possibly another Hitler in America.

Hopefully, God will put together another “band of brothers” to stave off anarchy, death, or the dissolution of our nation.

By Pierce McLoughlin

My Life In Pictures

In Photos, Stories, secrets & dreams on October 15, 2013 at 2:34 pm

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A picture of an infant – just past a year – sitting in a carriage. Must be winter for she seems bundled up. No smile, but her immense eyes attract attention. They seem to take in the world.

There she is again. Curly-haired moppet, she looks to be near five. High up now, atop a slide, and in her arms she cradles a kitten.

Years have passed and the smile is gone. Only the curls remain, as she sits in a swing, surrounded by her parents and brother. Though positioned in a group she seems to be apart.

An older teen now, she sits on a diving board, back to back with her mother. Their shoulders touch – but not their hearts.

All grown now – you seeing her holding a baby – her firstborn.

More to come – second son – the middle child. (Odd – he too has the immense, all-seeing eyes.)

Third son – the baby – bigger, fatter, gurgling happily.

She must be older now – the babies have grown.

Pictures mark the moments in their lives. Caps and gowns, tuxes and wedding dresses, awards held high – even an Emmy.

And now it’s back to the once curly-headed moppet – except now her hair is long and pulled back into a bun. No kitten cradled in her arms. Now it’s a newborn, swaddled and sleeping. The long-ago babies are grown and having babies themselves.

Those babies begin the same cycle. Caps and gowns and she’s standing nearby, hair streaked gray, face lined by time, but the eyes still dark and wondering and taking it all in. Time moves ahead and on –

By Jane Hogg

Nathan’s Story

In Guest stories, Soup Kitchen Stories on October 10, 2013 at 8:50 pm

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“This soup kitchen is a blessing to me,” says Nathan. “I use all the services, including food, counseling and referrals, movie day, and toiletries. It brings me comfort – it’s great having a place to come with a safe atmosphere, good food, and people to talk to.”

Nathan first came to the soup kitchen just over a year ago. He’s living in a single room occupancy and relies on public assistance for housing as well as medical needs.

Despite the challenges Nathan faces, he keeps a positive attitude. “I’m grateful for all the people in my life supporting me, including this place. I’m thankful for all the people who make this possible.”

 

 

Empty Apartment

In Poetry, Who, where, how? on October 10, 2013 at 6:13 pm

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Come home empty apartment, photos on wall and bookshelf and fireplace mantle of people I don’t know.

Someone is ringing my bell 3am. Who the hell is it – if it’s not important they are getting cold water on their face – Who is it? – Police- Police-open up- emergency. What is the emergency – Your building is on fire – let’s go let’s go – running out of the house down the block in my pj’s, its only 50 degrees – still cold.

Firefighters shooting water at the fire rising – it’s not working. Watering – 3 hours – they escorted us to a shelter – for 3 days we stayed hoping my apartment wasn’t badly burned.

Finally I signed out – checked on my home – I walked in, it’s empty no furniture, no refrigerator, all of my stuff is gone. All of my stuff is gone all my belongings. Its real quiet no family, there are pictures of other people on my wall and bookshelf. I don’t recognize them or know them – Am I dreaming? Do I have schizo? Maybe I am in the wrong house. No my key fits – what the hell is going on – Then a person comes out of the back room – Who are you – What are you doing here – in my house. This is my house I live here – I have a key and a rent receipt – bullshit.

My time machine brought me back to my mom’s house – get the hell out.

By Precious

Joe’s Story

In Guest stories, Soup Kitchen Stories on October 10, 2013 at 2:27 pm

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“I’ve had a great experience at the soup kitchen. I really enjoy the discussion group and talking to people here,” Joe says enthusiastically. “There are people here with all different world views.”

Joe is interested in politics, and in his spare time, he volunteers for a newspaper where he proofreads and writes op-eds.

“I get more information on what’s happening in the world at the soup kitchen than I do from the media,” Joe explains.

While Joe particularly enjoys the weekly discussion group, he also appreciates other services that the soup kitchen offers. He has been coming here as a guest for the past 8 months.

 “The soup kitchen is important because there’s so much poverty in this country. Many people are working two jobs and they still have to live in shelters. The soup kitchen is trying to address those problems.”

Ultimately, Joe has hope that change can come for New York’s hungry and homeless. “We need a system that is based on need,” says Joe. “People need access to food, clothing, shelter, and education.”

Karen’s Story

In Soup Kitchen Stories on October 6, 2013 at 9:03 am

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One guest we met through a counseling session is Jinhua Xie and his nine year old daughter, Karen. Jinhua and his wife saved up to legally immigrate to New York from their native China thirteen years ago. They found a home and work here and began a family — their dreams of a new life in America were starting to come true. And in 2009, when their six year old daughter Karen saw a piano for the first time and knew how to play, it seemed that a future was possible they’d never even dreamed of.

There is pride in Jinhua’s eyes as he tells me about Karen’s gift, how he found her a piano teacher straight away who was as amazed as he was. Once Karen had seen a piece a few times she could play it — Chopin, Mozart, Beethoven — there was nothing she couldn’t play.

That was four years ago. Now Karen is ten and playing Rachmaninoff, but times have changed for Jinhua. Like many others he lost his job. Things are tight for the family and he can’t afford a teacher for Karen. Determined to save whatever little he could to put towards Karen’s piano lessons, Jinhua joined the line at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen.

It was while talking to Jess, one of our counselors, that Jinhua explained that Karen was practicing at home on an electric keyboard. Jess immediately suggested that Karen use our grand piano at the church. Now, Karen practices here and when she’s not in school she plays for our guests and volunteers.

Listening to her play, seeing the transformation that comes over this shy little girl when she puts her hands on the keys is one of the most moving experiences I’ve had since coming to Holy Apostles. Jinhua still hasn’t found work and he can’t afford a piano teacher, but nonetheless he is certain his ‘baby girl’ will play Carnegie Hall, and I am too.

Seeing Jinhua’s pride in his daughter, his hope in the face of adversity, his faith in the future, reminds me of everything we stand for. And it reminds me that every single interaction we have with each guest who comes through our doors, offers us the chance to change a life forever.

Not every guest has a musical talent like Karen’s, but each and every person who joins our line shares that need for comfort, the reassurance that they are not alone and the promise of hope for a better future.

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The Reverend Glenn B. Chalmers
Executive Director

Government

In Stories, secrets & dreams on October 4, 2013 at 2:29 pm

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Finally I received my check for my overpayment from the Government. The government started to take too much  money out of my Social Security check in January of 2008. Through the years I had several NYU law students try to help me with this issue.

After a long period of time, I found someone to take on the case. I was living with this issue for a long tired time to find a good lawyer. Last year I had two hearings about seven  months apart. Then, at the last hearing, I won the case.

After the courtroom, my lawyer and I spoke, and he said it was going to take about two weeks to receive the payment. So I was waiting after New Year’s, but for some reason I didn’t receive it yet. I visited the Social Security office to follow up on it. Someone behind the window told me my payment got approved on January 3. Then she told me, “Have patience, you are going to receive the money.” I don’t like to have patience but I have it.

Months passed on, however. I gave the government the benefit of the doubt, and I still didn’t receive it. On Monday afternoon, April 23, I dragged myself to the Social Security office to follow up on it again. This time I had a young woman who listened to my concerns regarding the payment. When people visit the Social Security office, they spend a mass of time, a half day or an entire day, to get a resolution. This person told me again that my payment got approved on January 3 (Tell me something that I don’t know about – LOL).

I was on the website this morning to see if they sent the payment, and then a few hours later the check came.

By Leucio Parrella