Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

Archive for May, 2016|Monthly archive page

Volunteer Story: Elizabeth

In Uncategorized, Volunteer Stories on May 31, 2016 at 5:17 pm

SK Stories Elizabth

Think of a soup kitchen volunteer and your first image may be one of the many goodhearted people serving meals on the food line. But a lot goes in to serving about 1000 New Yorkers who come here for daily meal as well as emotional and practical support. The 50 to 60 volunteers who sign in each morning report to different assignments and stations that includes our social services program where volunteer advisers offer encouragement and essential resources that help our guests move forward and find hope.  Elizabeth, who runs her own fashion pr company when she’s not volunteering,  is one of these advisers, and one who has taken the meaning of soup kitchen volunteer to a whole new level.

“I have a lot of energy and I need to give away that energy,” she says.

Before volunteering at the soup kitchen Elizabeth had been volunteering as a one-to-one companion with an elderly woman and when that situation changed, Elizabeth immediately looked around for  a new way to give back. “Since I live about eight blocks away I would ride my bike past the soup kitchen and see the line, and I thought to myself, ‘I’m sure there’s a need there.'” Sure enough, when she stepped foot in the soup kitchen in February of 2015 for the first time, she was given a job right away, starting with a few weeks on the food line and busing tables before dedicating one day each week in our social services program.

“I’m a ‘people person’,” Elizabeth says, “And the people here have a kaleidoscope of needs.”  When she spent her first day listening to the range of needs our guests told her about,  our social services manager said, “Wow! We’ll keep you here!” and Elizabeth knew she had found the right match for her own volunteer goals.

For Elizabeth, it means a lot to not only offer a compassionate ear as she listens to our guests’ stories, but also to guide them toward practical solutions for their individual needs, solutions that range in urgency from hair cut vouchers to shelter referrals. While she has helps  many hundreds of guests to date, she keeps every session personalized because, she says,”Even making a difference to just one person makes it all worthwhile. That’s all you need to try to do – help one person.”
Bombas sock collageIt wasn’t long after Elizabeth volunteered weekly that she was eager to think about new ways to support our guests. Most recently, using her knowledge of the fashion industry, she decided she would reach out to apparel companies for sock donations —  a vital resource especially for our homeless guests who face severe health issues without clean socks. When she didn’t hear back from any of her established contacts she read about  Bombas, an innovative and socially responsible sock company that donates a pair of socks to the homeless for every pair that’s purchased.  After a swift response to her inquiry, Bombas worked with her to organize not only a group volunteer day, but the donation and distribution of  1200 new pairs of socks to our guests.

therapy dog jasper

This above-and-beyond project is only one of many actions Elizabeth takes to bring more comfort to our guests’ everyday lives. She’s recently added a second day to her busy busy schedule when she brings her therapy dog, Jasper, to our courtyard to meet and greet our guests after their meal. This gentle giant offers our homeless guests a respite of love and acceptance from the isolation they experience even on the most crowded city streets and subways trains.And for those who have a place to spend their nights but who are struggling with the stress that comes with poverty, the chance to play and connect with Jasper can be a gift of joy that lightens their day.

For all the work Elizabeth has done to go out of her way to make our guests’ days better, she does remember when a guest went out of his way to come back and thank her after they she had spent time advising him with practical resources and referrals.  “He came back up after he ate on his way out, and said that it just meant a lot to him… all the things we do,” she recalls.  “It made my day!”




In employment, Keeping hope alive, Soup Kitchen Stories on May 25, 2016 at 2:26 pm

Jose actor

 Twenty six year old Jose’s life has changed in ways he never expected.  Moving from foster home to foster home growing up, Jose never had the safety net of a loving family and has been homeless most of his young adult life. Unable to complete his education due to so many upheavals,  Jose has continued his studies through on-line coursework in writing and acting.  Warding off despair and hopelessness while surfing the web at the library  —  hungry for a meal, a job, a place that would accept him  — Jose found our website and his hope was ignited.

“The first thing I noticed was how calm it is here, how peaceful, how welcoming,” he recalls.  “I can come here and no matter how low I’m feeling, it lifts my spirits.”

Jose has found more than a welcome place for a nutritious meal, he tells us.  After seeing other guests lining up at our social services program in the narthex of the church, he knew he might find some hope for his situation as well. When he told one of our social services advisers about his situation, that it was almost impossible to secure a job without identification and mailing address, he was steered toward one of our most practical programs, a simple photo ID with his name and contact information for verification.  “I was finally able to get an ID and a mailing address here, so I can apply for jobs,” he says.

Carrying a notebook with him that’s filled with a screenplay he’s writing, he was also  excited to find out about our Writers’ Workshop, where he can get feedback on his work , continue learning his craft and meet new friends in our soup kitchen family.

It was finally our clothing pantry that led Jose out of the vicious cycle of homelessness and unemployment. After securing his first audition, he knew he would need appropriate clothing to make that winning first impression. Referring to our Manager of Social Services he says, “Rich hooked me up with a suit, and they said it was perfect for the role!” Today, Jose now has a small role on a major network television program,work experience and, finally,  hope for his future.


Lost Soul

In fiction, Keeping hope alive, Love, The worst of times on May 13, 2016 at 4:04 pm

don't jump i love you

It’s springtime in the city and the sun is about to rise up – and you see the delivery man making his rounds.

A police officer is walking his beat – on Fifth Ave and 57th Street – when he looks up and sees a man on the edge of a tall building, he realizes this man is going to jump. He calls on his walkie-talkie before going to the building where the man is. He rushes to the building, and asks the porter, “Where is the elevator?” He figures he is on the 30th floor.  When he gets there – all the doors are locked – it is only 8 am in the morning.

Just when he turns around – the elevator door opens and a young lady comes out. He asks her if she has the keys to the office leading to the 5th Ave window – where the man is – she says,  “Yes, is there anything wrong?” The police officer says – “There is a man on the edge of the window.” The lady gets upset. He puts his hand around her and says – “Just relax, please.” As he enters the office – and sees one of the windows open – he looks out, and sees the young man on the edge of the window, crying by himself. The young man sees the police officer. “Stay away from me or I’ll jump,” says the young man – the police officer asks the young man if he wants to talk about his troubles – “What’s your name son?” “ What difference does it make?” says the young man. “I have a 19 year old son like you – I care,” says the police officer. The police officer mostly listens as the young man describes his very personal struggle with his mental illness. “My name is Kelly – and if you come in I promise you I will help you,” says the police officer. “You’re just trying to fool me,” says the young man on the edge of the window.

“How can I trust a police officer?” says the young man.  “Tell you what,” says the police officer –“I take off my uniform and you and I can talk inside.” The room is full of police officers, “how can I trust them?” — says the young man. “Listen, I’ll send them away, and it will be just you and me,” says the police officer. Police Officer Kelly finds himself with a young man threatening to jump from a window, and realizes by talking to the young man it gives him a sense of hope and encouragement to come in.

Kelly the police officer tells his captain to give him 10 or 20 minutes – Kelly steps outside on the edge of the window. “How are doing son?” says Kelly the police officer. “I just don’t know,” says the young man on the edge of the window, his eyes wet with tears. “Listen son – sometimes life can get messy, you can be down today, but then you come back up again, son.” As the young man listens to Kelly, the police officer, he’s able to get a good grip on the young man and get him inside the building.

The young man starts crying and sheds tears. “It’s ok to cry, son. And I promise I will help you,” says Kelly. He gives him a big hug.

-Charles Borges



In humor, Stories on May 12, 2016 at 6:10 pm

rolls royce

            Harold, Marty and Murray were sitting on a park bench one morning as they always do, drinking their coffee. Suddenly a Rolls stopped before them, and stood for a while. Then a well-dressed man came out of the car, and asked for Marty Spencer.

Then Murray asked, “Who wants to know?”

The man said, “Bill Harrow.”

When Murray responded with, “Bill Who?,” the man said, “That’s not important. I just want to talk to Marty. Say you in the middle—you never looked at me since I got out of the car, so you must be Marty.”

Marty said, “Why you say that?

The man replied, “Cause I think you know who I am.”

“No sir, I never saw you before.”

The man said, “That’s right.” Then he asked, “Do you remember Doris Simmons?”

Then Marty said, “Doris from 138th Street? Yes, I knew her about 40 years ago. I haven’t seen her in so long.”

“Ha-ha,” the man laughed. “Well, Marty Spencer,” the man held his hand out for a handshake, “pleased to meet you finally. My name is Bill Spencer, your son. Doris, my mother, is sitting in the car. Come here, Mama.”

After a couple of seconds the Rolls Royce door opened, and a woman appeared in a long dress with diamonds around her neck and a large diamond on her wedding ring finger. She also had a white turban-like hat on her head.

She stood erect, and Bill said, “Mother, this is my father.”

She said, “I know.” Then she started, “You dirty son of a….”

Then Bill said, “Mother, watch your tongue. We spoke of this before. We will be civil to each other.”

Then an unusual thing happened. She clasped her hands, as if she were praying. Then she bowed before Marty, and said, “Please forgive my outburst. I apologize for my error in judgement. Please forgive me.”

There is more to this story. If you believe it.


The End

by George Cousins

Dear Mother

In Love, Poetry on May 2, 2016 at 3:44 pm


Dear Mother, dearest and loving you are,

Dear Mother, Don’t stress of my scars,

Dear Mother, beautiful – one day I hope to have the strength you do,

Dear Mother, you’re tough – and had to be so, growing up

Dear Mother, smile because you need to,

Dear Mother, don’t mind my scowl that you can’t see – for my trials should make a

Man out of me,

Dear Mother, stay clear of worry – but I know you won’t

Dear Mother, I feel your concern like fresh air, somewhere

Dear Mother, I’ll breathe – if you for you; to puff the allusion of stability.

Dear Mother, did you receive my release of comfort? Cozy up.

Dear Mother, I’m ok