Have you ever perused inside a mind?
Like red heat waves, coursing, appearing, debilitating –
on a scorching summer’s day
in circular motions,
By Annette Coxall
“A few years ago, my apartment in the Bronx caught fire, and I ended up homeless on the streets. I was hungry and wanted to get some food and clothes,” says Robert, 46 years-old. “Someone told me about Holy Apostles and I came here to get back on my feet.”
Robert comes here for a variety of services, including haircut vouchers, clothing referrals, and shelter referrals. “They help me know where to go to get help. They helped me with detox too, helped me to get clean last year. I’ve been sober for a year now,” Robert says, proudly smiling.
Robert encourages others to come to Holy Apostles for help, too. “They help you with clothes if you need clothes, they help you with haircuts, they help you with anything you need help with. Whenever you need something, they help you, and the food is good. I like it here.”
Like many of our guests, when Robert first started coming to the soup kitchen, he was nervous. But it didn’t take long for him to get comfortable.
“When I first came here I was nervous and shy. I didn’t know anybody and kept quiet. I’m much more open now and I know everybody. It’s much better now,” Robert says. “Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen has given me a community where I feel at home.”
“I was nervous when I first volunteered here,” Shirley Cooke shares, with compassion. “The first thing I’ll tell anyone volunteering here is that you’re going to be just fine. Just focus on the fact that people here really need you, and you’ll have a great experience. Volunteering at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen is a life saver. It’s the most rewarding thing that anyone can do for both themselves and for their community.”
Shirley started out volunteering once a week more than three years ago but now she comes at least three days a week, and gives orientations to our new volunteers.
She says that most new volunteers are surprised by the diversity of our guests and the wide range of services we offer here. “A lot of people think we’re just a soup kitchen,” Shirley says. “But we also have the writers’ workshop, yoga, and lots of social services. We help guests with housing, food stamps, and public assistance.”
When Shirley comes in to volunteer, she gets here early, ready to show new volunteers around and let them know what to expect out of their volunteering experience. “The soup kitchen has a rhythm,” Shirley explains. “There are lots of different volunteer jobs – there are two food lines, a beverage line, wrapping spoons, extra bread… I tell the new volunteers about all the different jobs. Then when they’re working, they have an idea about what’s going on around them, and that makes all the difference.”
“I’m so grateful for the soup kitchen and all that it offers. I’m thankful that I can be a part of it,” Shirley shares. “If you can afford to donate to Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, it’s such a good thing to do. We need all the donations that we can get.”
My home is my Titanic before the iceberg. My home is my place to be myself. In my home, I was thinking that in the past I took my mother to see the movie Titanic when it came out. We both enjoyed it.
In the pleasant times, my home is my sanctuary in the studio apartment. These days I am procrastinating to get things done in my small giant.
I am familiar with the need to work around the apartment. Yes, during the day I have errands to be accomplished and done.
These days at the movie theater, Titanic is in 3-D on the titanic screen.
From the movie, I purchase for my mother a Titanic jewelry for Mother’s Day. That is my Titanic, in a small box with a blue stone.
By Leucio Parrella
I almost missed it.
What do we think we are missing?
We go this way or that way.
Go down the road life takes us.
Are we missing something on the other road?
We can use our imagination and try to picture it.
That can be fun
And can do no harm.
If I went down that other road
Then I would not have missed it.
Would my life be better, or just different?
By Lois Skaretka
“Every day when I leave the soup kitchen after a day of volunteering, I feel so amazing. It feels great knowing that I’m helping to feed a thousand hungry and homeless people every time I come in,” says volunteer Matt Feliciano, smiling. “Maybe I can’t stop world hunger but I’m doing what I can.”
Matt, a licensed barber who works in Long Island and lives in Manhattan, has been helping out at the soup kitchen for the past year. He’s become known for his friendly attitude, helping guests and other volunteers alike.
Matt’s interactions with our guests aren’t limited to his hours volunteering. He’s joined in for the Writers’ Workshop, meditation, and the morning mass. “I prefer to be with those less fortunate. I want to show them that there’s no separation between us; we’re all human beings and we can all socialize with each other.”
While Matt only found the soup kitchen a year ago, he decided he wanted to help to fight hunger and homelessness six months before then. Disturbed by the number of people he saw in the streets and on the subway who were barely able to get by, he was determined to make a difference and help those in need. He started volunteering with City Harvest but they weren’t accommodating to his work schedule. So, he started on his own personal project to help homeless people in his community.
“I would make fruit bags for people sleeping in Chelsea, so they at least had something to eat,” says Matt. “But when I found out about the soup kitchen, I knew it was the perfect opportunity. By volunteering at the soup kitchen I can help to feed a lot more people, this is actually making a big difference.”
“I come all my days off of work, typically twice a week, and I make donations whenever I can,” Matt says. “There is a lot more I want to do, but this is what I can do, for now.”
You can usually spot him by his rain boots. “I’ve done every job here. But I most often volunteer washing dishes. The dish room is really difficult because it’s really hot,” he says. “But those clean plates and forks are important. You need something to put the food on!”
When Karolina graduated from high school in Denmark, she was excited to take some time off before college and spend a few months in New York City. But for Karolina, it wasn’t enough to experience New York as a tourist.
“I wanted my trip to be about more than just sightseeing and more than just having fun on my own. I wanted to try something different and meet other people,” Karolina says. “I wanted to give back.”
Having done some volunteer work in Denmark, Karolina wasn’t a complete novice, but she was surprised by the sheer volume of meals served at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen and the number of volunteers needed to serve them. Three weeks into her New York adventure, Karolina has been here seven times already and it’s seeing the difference this meal makes to the daily lives of our guests that makes her want to keep coming back.
“I really like that I can see that what I’m doing is helping someone,” Karolina remarks, smiling. “It’s a very basic thing to get a warm meal – I see the people who get this meal and they’re happy about it.”
Although Karolina will be returning to her native Denmark soon, she feels this experience at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen will leave a much longer lasting imprint on her than just the short time she has spent in New York.
“I’d like volunteering to be something that’s a bigger part of my life when I start college and when I start working,” she says. “I think it’s important to sometimes give a little extra when you can, and most people can.”
Now I am in the writing workshop group. To think about what I should put down on this white paper with this blue pen. No one could predict the future. Five years from now, no one knows, including myself. I have dreams and thoughts about what could happen.
Now I am in the future. Five years passed on. I am in my penthouse, located in the Donald Trump condominium building overlooking the East River, thinking about what I should do and where I should park my black Mercedes Maybach.
One of the things is to take care of my family.
Second thing on the list is to be successful.
Third thing on the list is to be a philanthropist. One of the things is to open a foundation to help the needy. I have never done this before and this will be something new to me. I am going to hire specialist people to do the job. One day I will be a wealthy person.
Who am I kidding!? I am the last person who would do something like this. Who would listen to me? I am in my penthouse to figure out how to occupy my time.
Fourth thing on my list is to hire a gourmet chef who cooks nutritious food. My favorite food is Asian.
Fifth thing on my list is to take a trip around the world. The planet we love and hate.
Sixth thing on my list is to be more kind to people who are kind to me.
I am wondering if those things on my list are a reality or not. Now what should I be writing in this letter? Maybe something good or maybe something bad. The morning came and it was all a dream. I am having breakfast, maybe it was not a dream after all. You will decide. Now I am back in the writing workshop group to see things around me and thinking to write.
By Leucio Parrella
“At first I was surprised by how efficiently Holy Apostles is run and how well they take care of their guests,” George Perkins said, thinking back upon his first time volunteering at the soup kitchen. “Not only do we provide food but we provide a variety of other services.”
If you’ve come to Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen to volunteer, you’ve likely seen George’s smiling face. He started volunteering here in October 2012, and since then, he’s become one of our Volunteer Coordinator and he’s racked up more than 660 hours of volunteering.
George says he initially came here to have some structure in his life but he quickly fell in love with the volunteer experience, and started taking on more responsibilities. “I started off coming here two days a week. Now I come in three or four days a week.”
Having the opportunity to give back at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen has been instrumental to George. “I’m grateful to have time to pursue this, to be able to give. The biggest gift in the world is being able to give,” George says. “If you can donate to Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, your dollar will go a long way.”
On a bright and sunny day when I was about eight years old, my father drove our family to the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia for a picnic. He had borrowed a panel truck. He was at the wheel, and I was with my mother, brother, and two sisters seated on kitchen chairs in the back of the truck. There were two doors at the back, and the doors had small windows at the top of them.
On the way up the winding mountain I began to notice, especially as we were about halfway up the mountain, that there were no guard rails around the narrow winding road leading to the top of the mountains. There was no flat land area at any point between the foot and top of the mountain. There just appeared to be this massive rock center around which the narrow road, barely wide enough for two lanes, wound in a steeplechase. When we reached the top of the mountain, we had to walk close to the edge in order to see what appeared to be a miniature town below.
We began our trip back home. At about one-third of the way down the mountain, the brakes on the truck stopped working. The only words spoken were when my father said the brakes were not working! The kitchen chairs were sliding from side to side of the truck as my father frantically maneuvered the truck around the winding path, picking up momentum. All I could imagine was the trick bumping into the side of the mountain and bouncing or rolling out of control. I did not think about dying. I don’t think that I understood it. I think I just thought we would all be severely injured. I remember feeling very sorry for my mother.
Then my father screamed that the brakes were working. From that moment we crepty down that mountain at a snail’s pace. Watching my father manipulate that truck seemed like a miracle to me even at eight years of age. If I had not seen it, I would not have belived it.
By Donald Mackey