Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

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John’s Story

In Uncategorized on July 31, 2017 at 1:00 pm

John's story v2

With a master’s degree in business and a bachelor’s degree in computer science, John came to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic with dreams for a better future. After losing his first job in sales in Miami, Florida because he could no longer afford the required travel expenses, he had an opportunity to come to New York and stay with a friend while searching for work. Here, he thought, there would be “more jobs, resources, and better transportation.”

Sadly, when John arrived in New York, he discovered that his opportunities were still extremely limited. Though he is highly educated, he struggled to find work and had to string together several minimum wage jobs.

“I worked in a couple of factories,” he says. “I work as a math instructor, but I only get a few hours a week. I’m only making about this much a month.” He holds up a paycheck for a few hundred dollars.

To make things worse, after six months, the friend he had been living with needed the extra space back and asked John to move out. Without any savings to fall back on, and earning less than $1,000 a month, John became homeless.

“I was sleeping on trains and in parks. I would find places to shower: at the beach, in gyms, at friends’ houses,” he recalls. “I’m a Catholic and I go to mass but I was hesitant to ask for help. I didn’t want the people that I pray with to know about my situation.” Most of his friends still don’t know that he is homeless.

After three months of living on the streets, John saw the line outside of Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen. “That’s when I entered this wonderful place,” he says, although it was difficult to come in for the first time. “There’s a psychological barrier to asking for help.”

But once he was able to ask for it, John got help right away from our Social Services counselors, who referred him to a nearby shelter. “I’m very grateful,” he says. “That was life-changing in itself.” When he needed to replace his clothes after contracting a rash from living on the streets, the counselors were there for him again, giving him a referral to the Salvation Army.

After finding shelter, and with clean clothes and renewed health, he then learned about Upwardly Global, an organization that helps college-educated immigrants find employment in the U.S.

“I’m updating my resume. I got a library card, I’m updating my skills,” he says, pulling a book on HTML out of his backpack. Although things are far from perfect, John is optimistic that he can improve his situation, and credits our social services program for connecting him to the help he needs.

Today, John has been called back for a second job interview with a bank. He’s optomistic about the prospect of using his business and technical skills again, and finally achieving his career dreams.

“I didn’t have the energy,” he says about looking for work while living on the street. “It was just too hard. Now I have the resources to get back on track. It’s better now, because I have hope.”

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Markus’s Story

In Guest stories, Soup Kitchen Stories, Stories, Uncategorized on July 10, 2017 at 5:48 pm

Markus soup kitchen storiesAspiring substance abuse counselor Markus first came to the soup kitchen a year ago after moving to New York from Rhode Island. He had just been accepted into an NYC program that provides housing assistance and other government benefits to people living with HIV and AIDS. But with no financial safety net to fall back on, and limited support through the program, Markus soon realized he was not able to afford to buy food and was struggling to provide for his needs.

“I had no food or health care,” he says. “I was emancipated from my family and had no social network to support me.”

One day while walking down 9th Avenue he saw a line of people stretching down the sidewalk in front of the soup kitchen and decided to go inside.

For Markus, the soup kitchen has provided more than just a daily meal. As a full time-student, the haircut and clothing vouchers help him look nice and well-groomed for class, and he enjoys the company of the “fabulous staff” and volunteers. A recovering addict, it has also provided a positive environment that motivates him to stay clean.

“The soup kitchen helped me when no one else could help me,” Markus says. “It has shown me true compassion.”

Today, Markus, who just turned 30, is optimistic about his future. He has his own small apartment in the Bronx and is only three months away from finishing his certification to become a Certified Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor.

“A lot of my family has substance abuse issues,” says Markus, “and drug use is how I became HIV positive. I want to help others like myself.” He also hopes to start volunteering at the soup kitchen soon.

“I owe a lot to this place,” he says. “That’s why I keep coming back. This place has given me hope.”