Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

Archive for February, 2016|Monthly archive page

Red Wagon

In memoir, Poetry on February 19, 2016 at 1:59 pm

red wagon

Hey son, time to move again

but it’s the only home I’ve known and all I know is here

You’ll like your grandparents and that big house and the van will move all

your stuff to our new home.

Say goodbye to your friends, you’ll make new ones,

because no one ever stays in Colorado Springs

The house got sold, the van came and went, but it left behind my red wagon.

 

More than 35 years later, it’s still someone else’s home

and I still haven’t found a place of my own

Parents and Grandparents are now long gone

and the little sister doesn’t even remember that old home anymore

but then the movers also forgot about the red wagon.

 

And now the present seems lost with failures abounding

and everyone gone as well as the sled and bear and red wagon.

It seems I’m trapped in the past but stuck in the future

wandering the streets I’ve known all my life

but now no one there knows me

The faces and storefronts are different

but any chance I have of returning home is as gone as that red wagon.

-Thomas Clarke

Volunteer Story: Alex

In Uncategorized, Volunteer Stories on February 18, 2016 at 2:45 pm

SK Stories 2016-Alex

 

Alex started to volunteer on a weekly basis at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen in 2012,
“after I had lost everything,” he says, “all in one year: my mom, my apartment, my job.”

 

While grieving his mother’s passing, and being forced to make severe cut-backs to his own quality of life, Alex knew he would have to find ways to cope with the losses in his life.

 

“I had to start over from the bottom,” Alex says, “Volunteering was something that I’d always wanted to do, and this was my chance to do it.”

 

A graduate from Rutgers University with a Bachelors in Marketing, Alex had enjoyed a successful eighteen year career in the wholesale clothing industry, moving up from Sales Associate to Vice President before his company took a drastic hit after the recession and he lost his job.

 

“I had always worked, ever since high school,” he recalls. “After moving to New Jersey from Puerto Rico at the age of 14, not speaking a word of English, I worked my way through ESL classes and then I worked my way through college as a waiter and as a gas attendant, many times seven days a week.”  During one point, between his classes and jobs, his days would start at 7 am and not end until 12 pm.

 

Despite having worked his whole adult life, Alex’s industry specific skills didn’t transfer easily in the post-recession corporate world where the competition remains fierce. So Alex continued to volunteer, because, “when I volunteer something is fulfilled in me, spiritually. The thought of helping the homeless completes me as a human being.”

 

He had heard about the resources our social services program offers our guests, but hadn’t thought to access them directly himself until one day, last year when he was talking to our manager for social services. “I was talking to Rich, and he gave me a listing of jobs. And you know what? The first job I went to I got!” Now, Alex is working for a catering company with good pay and scheduling flexibility. “It was here all along!” he says, “and I’m still able to volunteer here during the day since the hours are usually at night.”

Diana’s Story

In Guest stories, Uncategorized on February 16, 2016 at 10:42 pm

SK Stories 2016 -Diana Taylor

Diana’s life is soaring now, but she stopped in recently to  express her gratitude for the part the soup kitchen played in getting her career and her life off the ground.

A talented singer, actor, writer and model Diana Taylor was moving up in her career when a fire destroyed all her possessions and apartment six years ago.  Forced to find emergency, temporary shelter at the cheapest hotel she could find, she quickly realized that after losing all her belongings, including her identification cards, she was on a collision course with homelessness and bankruptcy.

“Someone at the hotel told me I could get a meal here,” she remembers.

For a year and a half, while Diana rebuilt her financial and emotional life from the trauma of the fire, she gained strength from the meals at the soup kitchen, and regained her equilibrium with the help of our social services team.

“While I hustled back to a balance, the soup kitchen was there for me with a wealth of resources,” she says, remembering how much the soup kitchen’s clothing pantry helped her rebuild a wardrobe, and how she found the practical tools she needed to rebuild her life.

“I’ll tell you,  it was that little I.D. that helped me the most.” she says, referring to the photo I.D. program run through our social services program. “From there I could get a new social security card, start over and great things began to happen!”

Since then, Diana’s life has taken off again, and now her home base is  in Miami, Florida where she continues her life on stage and as a field reporter for a publication called “Soul Be Swag.”

Back in New York, she  wanted to share with us her good news, “I got an audition for The Voice on February 2oth” she says excitedly. “So I’m up here working with a vocal coach and getting ready for that.”

As she looks around the soup kitchen, she remembers when times were harder: “It was a blessing…I was never judged,” she remembers,”After I  lost everything in the fire, the soup kitchen helped me get back to balance with dignity and respect.”

 

 

 

 

Alberto’s Story

In Uncategorized on February 10, 2016 at 7:02 pm

Alberto

Fifty five year old Alberto is grateful for the role the soup kitchen has played in his life since he came to the United States many years ago seeking political asylum from Cuba.

With 13 brothers and sisters, Alberto recalls being hungry all the time growing up in post revolutionary Cuba. “We could only go to the store for food on the first day of the month, so things would be scarce most of the time, and then we’d have to barter for food.”

He also recalls the day when he was forced to leave both his family and his country. “Cops took you from your family and put you in the army,” he recalls. Sent to fight in Vietnam, he nearly died from a nearby grenade explosion. “The pieces of metal, some of them are still in me,” he says, pointing to his ribs.

Alberto made a brave escape while recovering in  Panama, and from there sought and received political asylum in the United States. Landing in New York, he worked for the housing department  for 27 years, and during that time he also got married and raised his family.

“It was hard to start a new life in a new country, it’s so different,” he says. He remembers how helpful the soup kitchen was during his early years here: the daily meals, the clothes. “Without all that, I wouldn’t have been able to pay my rent.”

“I volunteered here too, cleaning the tables, doing what I could to give back,” he says.

Since he stopped working because of health reasons two years ago,  Alberto’s come back for meals to help  stretch his limited income,  and to stay strong for his children and grandchildren who he spends as much time with as he can. During this new phase in his life, our social services team came to his aid once again, this time by guiding him through the procedures for social security and public health assistance. A survivor, Alberto is filled with gratitude for the simple things in life.

“This place is the best, in here there is opportunity…and the food…I love it!”

 

SHORT POEM

In Poetry on February 5, 2016 at 3:52 pm

football

 

I’m trying to write without stopping

But my natural inclination is to pause

Every time I come to the end of the line

As if I were a running back

And each line that I write

Is a touchdown in the end zone.

Stop. Dance. Flip the poem to the stands.

-Michael LaBombarda