Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

Archive for August, 2015|Monthly archive page

Marcos’s Story

In Uncategorized on August 31, 2015 at 4:25 pm

marcos

Marcos stops in at  Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen on his lunch break once or twice a week for a midday meal. While he doesn’t live in the area, he’s often in the neighborhood because of his job, driving for a car dealership.

“I used to go to this church when I was young,” Marcos, who is now fifty years old,  remembers fondly. “I grew up on 22nd street, so I knew about this place.”

He’s now especially grateful he can walk and drive again. And he’s grateful he can work again. Last year he was t-boned while driving and broke his leg.

“I had to have two surgeries. I was in a soft cast but it wasn’t healing right. Then they put me in a hard cast. I couldn’t even walk and I was on disability for 12 months. I’m getting back on my feet, now.”

As Marcos is literally getting back on his feet, he’s able to start climbing out of the expenses of his accident, get back to work and move on, “The meals are good here,” he says,”so I come here to save money on my lunch break because  it costs an arm and a leg to eat lunch in this city!”

Londy’s Story

In Guest stories, Keeping hope alive, Soup Kitchen Stories on August 27, 2015 at 3:25 pm

 

 

LondyFFTS

When thirty two year old Londy and her twelve year old daughter first came to Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen two years ago, they were not only hungry for a meal, they were also fleeing a dangerous domestic violence situation. For Londy, the prospect of homelessness was safer than  the constant threat of physical abuse.

And with no family in the area for support, Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen soon became a place she and her daughter could find the routine of regular meals, a safe community and, even, tradition.  “I love the little things they do here, especially on the holidays,” she said, “It really means a lot – to be able to have a place to celebrate whatever holiday is going on. ”

It’s taken courage for  Londy to trust  people again, after living under chronic fear for so long. She’s been enduring unpredictable and temporary living arrangements while seeking out housing that’s truly safe and permanent. “I live in a shelter so the soup kitchen is really comforting,”  she says, adding how much she found comfort by talking with one of the clergy members one day, and how the social services program has helped her navigate resources to help her cope.

“I was doing really bad,” Londy recalls. “And the people  helped me with clothing, and resources like shelter referrals, so I could find ways to survive.”

While she tells her story, Londy  pauses to say hello to another guest and then remarks, “Everyone – their whole demeanor, is really nice here. It helps.”

Today, Londy’s hopeful that her section 8 housing application will be approved before the winter sets in. While she must contend with the stress of waiting for that outcome, she’s gained enough trust in others again to meet with  both the chiropractor and  energy healer who volunteer their time at the soup kitchen  every week.

“I’ve got really bad back problems from not sleeping well, and the chiropractor really helps,” she says. “And I feel so light after meeting with the energy healer, it was amazing!”

 

 

 

Sarah

In Uncategorized on August 26, 2015 at 1:38 pm

rose

At first I thought she was a ballerina—coming at me through the woods—shadowed by a night that was just beginning.  But as my eyes became familiar with night, I saw that she was but a girl in a skirt—not a dancer—and standing perfectly still with no intention to walk.

It was not unusual for me to, at first anyway, misinterpret what I saw.  A shadow becomes an ominous rat racing in the corner of my room to flatten out under the kitchen cabinet and escape.  A threatening shout from a man across the street stopped for a light, I believe to be cursing me when, as it turned out, he was beckoning a co-worker whom he had promised to meet for lunch.

Ralphy says it is paranoia on my part.  Probably due to stress.  He admonishes me to take up yoga; to stop in the afternoon for green tea.  I remind him I’m from Sussex, England and that I drink black tea and that green tea is insipid and more accurately described as a vegetable.  I remind him we call it a ‘cuppa’ and that I hardly wait till afternoon but drink all day long.  I am so wrapped up in the details of tea that both he and I manage to forget about the yoga.  Perhaps I’ll consider it another time.  Now I mainly run 5 miles a day.

But because of what Ralphy calls my paranoia, I run more quickly and with that distinct and particular flavor that I am running away.

It is clear to me, however, that these shadowy, lurking elements in my life are real and not imagined and that in some remote way that I can’t put my finger on—I am in danger.

It started a couple of months ago.  I was dropping off my wool coat at the cleaners—the only thing I take to the cleaners and taking it now only so I could give it away and buy a washable coat.  Dry cleaning is so costly and no doubt those chemicals poison the earth. Certainly it hanging in my closet fresh from the cleaners would exude that chemical brew all over my room.  Rachel Feathers had given me that coat when it went out of style and she knew I didn’t care a hoot about style, but now that I think about it, she had planned all along that I would have the coat cleaned and let the dry cleaning chemicals fumigate my home, fill my lungs, poison out the last grey matter in my brain.  My heart would stop then.

They all would have won then, wouldn’t they?

I can’t allow that so that is why I am so watchful.

Having explained all this over and over again to herself across the mirror on the old-fashioned pink and beige vanity in the corner of her room—a furnished room she had rented eight months ago, Sarah felt clear yet again to hold her own against the vast array of forces that pressed in on her.  Clarity would solve little, she often thought despondently.  She weighed her options.  There were none.

Sarah was on the diminutive end of a spectrum on which women range from the most desired shape which is agreed upon by 79% of males…to the other end of the spectrum reserved for those not at all appealing; a hopeless mass of flesh that was better off never having been born. She wasn’t sure where diminutive fit on the spectrum and didn’t particularly care although it was a tantalizing thought that she might be being observed and assessed not to be marked for death but rather to win a place on the appeal-scale as it is applied to the sexes.  Not particularly threatening.

Let me start again.  Sarah isn’t even a friend of mine.  I read about her in the alumna news page from the now defunct Marymount College and the blurb on her may all have been a hoax.  Now that the college was defunct—although absorbed by Fordham—many people are making up students for the alumna news who had never even really existed.  Sarah may have been one of them.  I don’t know.

My own sister is named Sarah.  She has red hair too.  She is besieged by admirers and detractors alike—not because she is a star but because she is so gregarious and outgoing that inevitably hoards of people wind up congregating about her.  One of those, Rafi Alexander Martin, is dead.  Was killed. Strangled then shot. Or was it shot then strangled? I forget. And did he really ever exist?  I’m not sure.  But his killing did.  Yes, his killing still existed even in his absence.  Even if he never was.

But I do remember Rafi coming to our home once.  He was only seven.  Already he had dark brooding eyes.  His face was brown in a South Asian sort of way, but also because a low-hanging cloud floating about his rugged, angular face—even at that age rugged—filtered his appearance through a haze that allowed no light.

Rafi came over that night to see Sarah and work on homework—arithmetic I think it was—and to color.  He liked purple and ultramarine.  He liked the cool, darker hues.  He brought rice pudding with him. But a funny kind. With long strands—vermicelli I think he said.  I think he called it Kheer. It smelled of roses.  He smelled of roses and I remember thinking; I wonder what would happen to a boy growing up smelling of roses.  But now to find out the wondering was useless because after all he didn’t grow up, did he if they are all correct about him up and dying; strangled and gunshot? Smell of roses now gone to metallic gun powder odor. Then decay. Putrid.

I wonder about death.  What it is to die.  What it feels like in those very last moments and if you see Jesus or Mohammed or Krishna or Abraham or all four of them ‘coming to take you away (ha ha hee hee)’ like the old song goes.  What if they had come to Rafi’s wake (did he even have one?) and brought roses and laid them on his linen wrapped body to give him back the smell of roses. Once again. Maybe we could all go visit his grave (where is it?) on the Day of the Dead and sit there eating sugar skulls and Kheer.

I think that’s the only way we’d get to see Sarah again because surely she would come dragging a rag doll in one hand, forgetting just for a while if she was a child or had grown up.  Grown up terribly wrong and distorted and broken.

She now a broken sort of person filled with fears and horrors and a deep brooding despondency.  A broken person with flaming red hair that practically stood on end when she experienced fear, or when she ran, or when she tried to sort out just what is real and what isn’t.

And then, when she bent to give Rafi a kiss—he disappeared leaving behind a dusty powder rising in the air and the scent of roses.

-Annie Quintano

Fast-a-thon 2015: November 19th

In Uncategorized on August 23, 2015 at 9:47 pm

fastathon

I can’t fast on November 19th, can I participate another day?
Yes! If November 19th doesn’t work for you, you can simply choose another day to fast.

How long do I have to go with only one meal?
The official Fast-a-thon hours run from 6am on the day of your fast to 12:01am the next day. You can enjoy your meal any time during that time. Please make sure to drink lots of fluids while you are fasting – water, tea, coffee, juices and sodas are all allowed!

Do I have to eat my meal at a certain time on the day of the fast?
No – you can eat your meal at any time during that period.

Do I have to eat certain food for my meal?
We don’t have any specific requirements but we suggest that you use the soup kitchen menu as a guide. Some favorites that we regularly serve are rotisserie chicken, whole wheat spaghetti with meat sauce or meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy. We always serve fresh vegetables and fruit for dessert so don’t scrimp on nutrients on the day.

Can I eat my meal at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen that day?
Yes, on November 19th we’ll be serving a special Fast-a-thon meal from 5:30pm –  7pm or you can also eat here during regular soup kitchen hours (10:30am – 12:30pm). We’ll also make our recipe available online, so you can cook your fast-a-thon meal at home.

I have special dietary requirements, can I take part?
Sure! You can simple make a meal that suits your diet. If you have a pre-existing medical condition we suggest you check in with your doctor before signing up.

I don’t want to fast – can I do something else to fundraise?
Of course! You can raise funds in any way you’d like for the soup kitchen. Some people raise money on our behalf through sponsored runs, cycles and walks. Others ask friends and family to make donations to us in lieu of holiday gifts, birthdays or even wedding presents. The choice is yours and you can be as creative as you like!

Where is Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen?
We’re at 296 Ninth Avenue, New York, NY 10001, at 28th Street. We serve in the nave of the landmark Holy Apostles church.

How many meals do you serve at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen?
We serve over 1,000 meals every day to hungry New Yorkers. We are the biggest soup kitchen in New York City and in 30 years of service we have never turned anyone away.

How much of the funds raised go to help hungry people?
We’re using Causevox to raise money online because they have very low fees for processing payments – 96.75 cents of every $1 you raise will go to the soup kitchen to directly help hungry people.

How much should I ask people to donate?
We’ve found that asking for specific amounts can help. Letting your friends and family know that $28 buys a meal for a guest for a month and $65 buys a meal for a family for a month helps people to understand where their donations will go. Last year, some of our fundraisers also had success asking people to donate the price of a recent meal they had eaten out at a restaurant together.

Some people don’t like to donate over the internet, can I raise funds another way?
Yes! Call us at (212) 924-0167 to ask for a paper sponsorship pack and we’ll be happy to send one to you.

Can I volunteer on the day of the Fast-a-thon?
Volunteering opportunities are available for teams and individuals taking part in the Fast-a-thon on November 20th. For more information on volunteering on the day contact Brooke Wiese at bwiese@holyapostlesnyc.org

For more information about Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen check out:

http://www.holyapostlessoupkitchen.org

http://www.facebook.com/holyapostlessoupkitchen

@HolyApostlesNYC

CUTE AS A BUTTON AND A COLD CHICKEN LEG

In Uncategorized on August 20, 2015 at 6:12 pm

semper fidalis

Way up in the far reaches of northern Bronx I got into a #4 train this early morning.

Last stop.

I had gotten a tip a storefront church in west midtown would be giving away pieces of frozen chicken; ten pounds of legs per needy beggar – first come first served – and I wanted my piece.

My cute as a button likes to cook and she makes a delicious chicken soup – especially with all the bags of free carrots and all the bags of free onions I get from the food pantries and her using her very special spices; very tasty soup she cooks.

And with the weather as cold as it is these days I have a readymade refrigerator; keep 10 lbs. of frozen chicken cold for weeks on my fire escape easy, no matter the threat of a NYFD citation.  I take my chances.

This early morning I quietly make my exit from our warm apartment, silently tip-toeing away from my softly slumbering cute as a button; she’s my girl.

You’d think at five  in the morning I’d be alone in this train car – or at least one of the very few passengers – and I can find some peace for a few moments – and some warmth – from the bitter cold this darkly early winter morning.

Such is not my fate.

Walking along the platform aside the train’s many cars I step into the middle car and I plop down onto my favorite seat; I like the blue single fold down seat at the front end of the middle car; the seat’s location sets me apart from most other passengers and keeps me almost alone on the ride downtown, and I have room to remove all my layers of winter clothing – there are many seats to choose from this early morning and I choose this seat; this is my favorite seat.

However I am not alone in this car – midway down this car is a tattered old man with a formidably sized pic sticking out the top of his knotted brown hair and he is suddenly animated and growling and spitting out

“I’m gonna to whip your ass.”

I ain’t paying him no mind as I remove my layers of winter coats and fleeces and pulling off my black winter woolen stocking cap, stuffing it all into my large shopping bag.

“I’m going to whip your ass!”

I ain’t looking at him and I sure as hell ain’t going to move from this car and move from off my favorite seat and no matter how ragged and torn he’s looking – if he smelled he didn’t smell bad enough to be sending any of his whiff down to my end of the car – at least not yet; all the doors are standing open as this is the last and first stop so there is a lot of air flowing through this car right now standing open on the elevated track – a fair amount of very cold air is whistling through this early morning.

“I’m gonna whip your ass!”

‘Yeah, yeah – any time.’  I am thinking; riffling through my shopping bag looking for my papers.

Do you believe this?!

I have to get – this is the attitude I have to stuff myself with – at five in the morning ?

I tell you this is a way better wakeup than coffee in the morning.

I am not sure ‘better’ is the correct word…

‘Stronger’ – yes; this forced interaction with another of God’s special slothful sooty snowflakes produces a ‘stronger’ early morning wakeup than a tall cup of a double espresso – much stronger; stiffens the spine.

“I’m gonna whip your ass.”

Fuck you!’ I am thinking and I get to wondering whether he really is talking to me or is he repeating a familiar phrase from his long ago-lost-malevolent-evilness-father days, and dark frightful struggling ghetto nights…

“I’m gonna whip your ass!  I see you looking at me.”

I ain’t paying him no mind and I ain’t his psychiatrist, though need be I’m definitely a soldier – I have to be in these environs – ready for any of the possible threats he is espousing and spouting, couched in his globby gross spit spraying; I’m ready for a tooth to be flying out of his mouth.

“I’m gonna whip your ass!”

I see no whip he has handy – perhaps all this possible fuss just a playful figure-of-speech.

A few people get on the train the doors close and we trundle downtown and I am thinking

‘What a fool I can be.’

After a few stops the car’s seats are all full with people though the aisle is still clear and I am staring off down the car’s length lost in an early-morning-daydream of walking into the new found storefront church and picking up ten pounds of frozen chicken legs when all of a sudden I hear a bellowing

“I see you looking at me!”

I look down from the train car’s light beige ceiling and I am looking directly at this monster.

You don’t mind me calling him a monster – do you ?

He might be God’s special snow flake this cold Thursday morning but he is big enough and ratty looking enough – with a big pointy metal pic of a comb sticking out atop his head that he seems monstrous enough to me, and I am going with that analysis in case all-of-a-sudden I am needing to slay a dragon this early morning.

“I see you looking at me!”

He seems to be bellowing this phrase at me, as a threat – I have been in this situation before and I know where it can go – I have been there; I have done that.

“I see you looking at me!”

All the other passengers have perked up from their normal slumberous morning routines and are suddenly acutely aware of me and him – or acutely aware of me and the monster; whatever description you prefer.

And I can see why he might be thinking I am looking at him as he is sitting way down in the middle of the car across the aisle from me agitatedly shifting his gaze, spitting threats; my back is to the car’s forward wall and my whole body posture is turned towards the rest of the car and at this distance from me I can see how he might be thinking I am looking at him…

But so what?

He definitely is a scene in this train car and he is certainly noisy enough and I am certainly looking at him now.

And then I figure ‘Fuck him’ and I busy myself with my papers.

But he ain’t letting it go and he gets up and he starts walking down the aisle, towards me –

And I ain’t paying him no mind and I can see out the corner of my eye he is getting closer…

And I say to myself – ‘OK…’

It wasn’t but a couple of weeks ago a few people got razor slashed – some in the face – sharply slashed in the subways by a person bearing a striking resemblance to this one.

“I’m gonna whip your ass!”

‘OK’, I am thinking and I see him rustling through his dirty ripped sweat pants looking for something –

A razor blade – a knife -?

As I say, this is a wakeup much more strongly brewed than a darkly roasted double espresso.

Now all the people in the car are really alert – and since they are all new to this car – newer here in this car than he and I – they are not sure what may have gone on between us two.

And I am thinking

‘No way this guy is going to attack me in front of all these people.  Would he?’

And now he is hovering over me and he is rustling into his grimy ripped torn stained sweat pants with his dirty grubby hands and blackened fingernails and I can smell the stench now – oh yeah – his putrid sour scent but I ain’t paying him no mind and I am thinking I am going to give this grimy sloth a chance – I am going to give him a hint at what I am prepared to do if he does not stop fucking with me and getting in my face.

I bend down rustling through my shopping bag – past my red fleece pullover and pushing aside my warm woolen scarf and passing by my heavy leather gloves and I pull out from my shopping bag my black woolen stocking cap with the gold and red and white eagled crest of the US MARINES emblazoned large on the front of the black stocking cap.

The stocking cap even says, inscribed in bold large red letters atop the embroidered outstretched gold eagle: US MARINES.

And I put that cap on and I pull it tightly down fully covering my forehead right to the top of my eyebrows and I turn and I look up at him; I face him.

I face him with seriousness – and maybe even a bit of hatred in my eyes for him bringing me to this place so early in the morning – as the US MARINE insignia emblazoned red across my forehead stares into his disgusting face with me.

‘Semper fi baby – we’re all going down.’

His dusky grody grooved furrowed pitted scarred face not inches from mine.

My right eye is twitching.

He stops – backing a step away mumbling unintelligibly – but mumbling nothing about ‘whipping any ass’ – and he pulls his dirty grody hand out of his filthy torn darkly stained sweat pants and tosses a bunch of empty paper candy wrappers at me.

I’m pissed but I let the paper-wrapper insult go brushing the flimsy scraps off my lap, colors fluttering to the floor.

He is backing another step away and he is turning unsteadily on his heel as our car jerks sideways rounding a curve in the dark tunnel lurching and screeching against an untrue rail as he grabs for the pole and almost misses.

He slowly shuffles back down the aisle, away from me; onto bothering someone else I figuring…

He had no reason to pick me; did he?

And I thank God for the US MARINE emblazoned winter stocking cap I found lying on a VA Hospital’s floor a few months before; and I thank God I am wearing this black gold and white and red emblazoned stocking cap today with the eagle’s gold wings outstretched, and ready; and while I am in a thanking mood, I thank God for the reputation of the US MARINES.

And with my breath calming and the metallic taste of bitter sharp fear subsiding .

Michael Welch

GREYHOUND

In Prose, Stories on August 14, 2015 at 12:54 pm

greyhound bus station

By the time I saw the turnpike exit from the bus, I knew I was almost home. I saw the refineries, the bridge, then the airport, and then the tunnel under the Hudson. I remembered the heavy traffic, the horns, the dim lighting once you got into the city. And then there was the chaotic bus terminal, all the people swarming around, hustlers, cops, taxi drivers with fares way out of my price range.

Normally by this point, I would have gotten my Metro card ready for a long trip to either my storage in the Bronx or my old place out in Rockaway. But it was 8PM on a Friday night, too late to drop off any excess luggage at the storage site. And even though I had enough money for a couple of weeks rent, I couldn’t go back to Rockaway, for another hour plus subway ride and cold February transfer at Broad Channel to Rockaway. And no cold but soothing beach to visit at night. I remembered the place I had booked for the next 3 nights was on the other side of the river, in Union City. I went to the NJ Transit bus counter and found out which bus went out there – and it cost $3.20 – 70 cents more than the subway. If the Greyhound had made any stops between Newark and the Port Authority, I would have needed to make 2 bus trips across the Lincoln Tunnel. But I had to do this – to get to a place that would cost me $45 for 3 nights which beat staying in a shelter or 2 nights on a greyhound from Colorado.

When I got to the still-under-construction hostel, I met the sour desk attendant. Even with my Colorado ID, he must have figured out I was a local, because he blurted that the rates were going up soon and that there were no vacancies on Monday, (when my 3 day payment was up).

But for now I could sleep on a bed, shower, use the microwave downstairs, and use the overpriced Laundromat to clean the clothes I had been wearing for 2 days straight since Colorado.

-Thomas Clarke

Jacques

In Guest stories, Keeping hope alive on August 11, 2015 at 2:15 pm

Jacques

Recently,  Jacques dropped in for a visit on his day off to let our social services team know  how much his life has really turned around since he first came to the soup kitchen. When the fifty two year old first came here about three years ago, he had lost his job and his home.  He was also grieving the loss of his mother, who he had lived with and helped care for during her illness before she passed away.

“When she passed —” he recalls, “Everything just fell apart. I was in a shelter. I never thought I’d end up there.”

Thinking about his days in the shelter Jacques says, “I was ashamed, but the soup kitchen helped me remember who I am  and that anyone can end up where I was.”

“I had no money but the soup kitchen helped me get through the day,” Jacques recalls, thinking about that tough winter, “There are very nice people here and it was really a source of energy, the meals and their kindness. They issued me a MetroCard, gloves, scarves and hats.”

Now, Jacques  is working again in security, “I’ve got a room of my own in a two story building,” and he says.  “I got my own place thanks to the help here which helped me with referrals for housing.”

Recently, Jacques even got a promotion at his new job. He gives credit to the social services team and the volunteers here who inspired him to have a new positive, outlook on life one that he knows his mother would be proud of, “Just by being kind and being helpful, they helped me get to where I am now.”

FUTURE ME? TOO

In Uncategorized on August 7, 2015 at 2:07 pm

fog

How am I?

 

Who am I when I am how I am now?

Am I that same me when multi-tasking

As when languishing?

 

Impossible

 

As when I lay immobile

the only me apparent is

FOG

Drifting aimlessly

Lost in skies over distant unfamiliar landscapes

 

She Me I

 

Can’t be

The hustle bustle vibrant congenial

Wanting to know and do it all

 

I Her She

 

That chick

Dances with abandon

Fearlessly Frolicking

‘Til all becomes familiar

 

Reveling

 

Am I this how now?

-Stephanie Lawal