Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

Archive for 2018|Yearly archive page

Lilli’s Story

In Uncategorized on May 22, 2018 at 2:03 pm

Untitled design (8)

Fleeing traumatic and abusive events in her home town, Lilli came to New York from Europe one year ago. Having no connections in the city and no money, she soon ended up living on the streets in Greenwich Village. “I spoke English, but I was very afraid,” she said. “I didn’t know who I could trust.”

Finding food was difficult, and she admits she sometimes resorted to eating from the trash and panhandling to survive. “I would go to the park and wait until someone threw something away, then I would finish it,” she says. When someone stopped to give her money one day, they also gave her some valuable information about the city’s soup kitchens. Soon she made her first visit to Holy Apostles.

Lilli’s voice fills with emotion when she recalls first entering the soup kitchen one year ago. “I cried the first time I came here, when I heard the live music. It had been so long. I was overwhelmed.”

Soon she learned that the soup kitchen could offer much more than just a hot meal. “I found out I could use this address to get my mail,” she says. She met with our social services counselors who helped connect her with more resources, and she attended many of our classes and activities. “I went to the computer class. I watched films on Tuesdays. I relaxed. I slowly started to feel more comfortable.”

“I was treated with such respect and such kindness,” Lilli remembers with tears in her eyes. “I don’t know if you can really understand how that feels. It was shelter in the fullest and best sense of the word.”

Fortunately, Lilli eventually moved off the streets and into a nearby homeless shelter. A program connected to the shelter helped her find a job washing dishes, where she began to develop an interest in the culinary world, specifically in chocolate-making. With financial support from an employment preparation program she was able to take a chocolate class, using MetroCards from Holy Apostles for travel between the class and the shelter. She also relied on our computer lab to search for jobs online, develop her resume, and print copies for applications. Eventually her hard work paid off when she landed a part-time position training with a professional chocolatier.

“I went to her and explained my situation,” Lilli says. “You know what she said to me? She said, ‘People who are different aren’t a problem for us.’”

Lilli is currently enjoying her experience working and studying at the chocolate shop, and has ambitious plans for the future. She hopes to find another part-time job soon to have health insurance, and to save up enough money to move out of the shelter and into an apartment. She also has dreams of using her chocolate education to eventually open her own business, maybe a cart or a stand at the farmers’ market.

“When I think about all that I’ve lost, of course it’s very painful,” says Lilli, starting to tear up again, unable to speak of the tragedy and fear she left behind. “But you have to move forward.”

Thanks to the Holy Apostles community, she now has something to look forward to. “I love to come back here to let people know. It started here at Holy Apostles. It healed my spirit.”

 

 

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Volunteer Story: Larry

In Uncategorized on April 19, 2018 at 7:49 pm

After Larry retired from a successful banking career, his good friend told him about the rewarding
volunteer positions in the social services program at Holy Apostles. “I had always wanted to volunteer at a soup kitchen, so I gave it a try,” Larry recalls about his first day here in 2014.

With the support of other volunteers and staff, Larry caught on quickly to the job of meeting one-to-one with our guests, listening and counseling them about their options for health, housing, employment resources and benefits.

“The social services team was very knowledgeable and I was impressed with the training I received at the beginning,” Larry remembers, adding, “I used what I learned working with people in banking: identifying their needs, helping them move in the right direction, motivating them.”

Since those first few days, Larry has been part of the life of the soup kitchen more than he could ever have imagined. In 2015 he signed on as one of our computer lab teachers, and he has been an avid fundraiser for our annual Fast-A-thon. The 70-year-old long distance runner isn’t new to marathons and giving his all to whatever he’s involved in.

“I’m naturally competitive,” he laughs.“But when friends support me in the Fast-A-Thon, that’s something special … that feels good.”

Larry knows how much success can depend on support and encouragement from others. Thinking about the guests he’s helped along the way he says, “When they come back, after they’ve gotten a job, or the help they needed, and they’ve said ‘thank you’ for my help — that feels really good too!”

Tenebrae

In Poetry on March 28, 2018 at 7:30 pm

Darkness all around in the cold tomb

Darkness where there used to be life

Darkness overtaking the light of the world.

What good is it to die for the sins of the world?

What good is it to try and save those who killed you?

What good is having a close friend who will sell you out for 30 pieces of silver?

What good is infallibility when you denied the savior of the world?

What good is telling the truth when you get killed for it?

What good is good at all?

Darkness, all alone, and abandoned by most of your friends

Darkness in the place where those who ignored your father end up.

Darkness, for another day or two

Sure, you’ll rise, but who’ll see it or believe it?

-Thomas Clarke

Volunteer Story: Gregg

In Volunteer Stories on March 16, 2018 at 2:43 pm

 

When he’s not piloting around the world for JetBlue, Gregg likes to stay busy on his days off. And for him, that routine includes traveling over to Chelsea from Queens to volunteer at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen. The music teacher turned commercial pilot discovered that his day-to-day routine changed dramatically when he changed careers.  A man of faith, he turned to his own church for help finding a food pantry or soup kitchen to volunteer his time and energy for, and they pointed him in Holy Apostles’ direction.

“It was super easy to sign up,” Gregg recalls from his first days with us in December, 2016. “I found they were very welcoming and open to volunteers, and what jobs the volunteers wanted.”

Gregg wanted to be as helpful as possible so he told the volunteer coordinator, “Put me where you need me.” Since then, he says, “I’ve done almost all the volunteer jobs here.”

His favorite job is greeting people when they come in. “It’s a time to talk, even if just briefly,” he says. “It can be anything, about the weather or about sports.” He notes the many guests he’s met who aren’t native New Yorkers, like himself, and how their shared geographical experiences form a friendly connection.

Gregg has certainly gotten a lot of mileage out of his volunteering so far, and has even been able to magnify his efforts through his employer. By logging his volunteer hours with JetBlue, the airline donates tickets to the nonprofit of his choice. He chose Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, and is contributing tickets to the upcoming Farm to Tray auction, when the highest bid will help to purchase ingredients and support our programs.

Since learning to fly as a hobby while he was an associate professor of music at colleges and universities, and eventually changing careers completely, Gregg has never shied from adventure. Most recently he has earned his commercial glider license: flying those planes that have no engines. But for Gregg, these leaps of faith don’t happen without persistence, planning, and hard work.

“Faith without works is dead,” Gregg says, quoting scripture, (James 2:17). “Volunteering is a practical way to exercise my faith.”

The Rider Thomas

In Uncategorized on March 8, 2018 at 7:28 pm

Image result for knight horseback

High upon my ride

Looking on the floor below

Trampled toys, broken bones, mangled furniture

Destroyed monsters below.

 

It looks better on top, riding over the destruction below

And I can control it

Let me take it anywhere, over the lamp, the sofa, my toy box.

 

Or maybe I should take off the leash

Let it destroy you

Let you rest with the bones and toys

For not giving me that blueberry raisin cookie last Monday night!

 

But then, I’d have to get a new mom.

 

Thomas Clarke

Volunteer Story: Rachel

In Volunteer Stories on March 7, 2018 at 9:39 pm

“I started the search for soup kitchens in the city after meeting James, a homeless teenager,” says Rachel, a Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen volunteer and dedicated Fast-A-Thoner.

“He was hungry most days, unable to find consistent food,” she recalls. After buying him food and helping him to get an ID so he could get into a shelter, she asked herself, “How could I help James on a greater level?”

Rachel knew the answer had to start with nutritious and reliable meals.

“He needed food,” she explains. “And I set on a mission to find a soup kitchen that provided daily meals.”

“The more people I spoke to, the more I realized how difficult it can be to find food,” she says, describing the irregular schedules offered elsewhere. “Holy Apostles operates FIVE days a week, serving approximately 1,000 meals per day!  The set up alone is something to marvel at. But what impresses me most is the true care that is given, and the gratitude that is received at Holy Apostles.”

A busy professional, Rachel volunteers whenever her schedule allows, often on holidays. By getting to know James, and getting to know Holy Apostles, she has become more motivated than ever to advocate for hungry and homeless New Yorkers.

I have participated in the Fast-A-Thon for two years now and plan to do so for years to come,” she explains. “It’s a great opportunity to spread awareness and motivate others to donate to this great cause.”

Each year on her Fast-A-Thon campaign page Rachel includes James in her story, and how she found Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen as a result of their connection. She has truly become an inspiration to others, helping them to understand the painful cost of food insecurity and homelessness.

“I have seen many elderly who have lost their housing due to rent increases,” she says. “I have seen older gay men who were abandoned by their families due to intolerance, and, of course, there is James, who became homeless at 18—with no one to offer guidance or support after he left foster care. Holy Apostles offers support and understanding to a population that is too often ignored.”

When Rachel looked for a food emergency program to help James, she didn’t imagine she would help find him so much more. “I have witnessed beautiful exchanges between patrons and volunteers,” she says. “Many know each other by name. Participants befriend one another. It is a true communal atmosphere where patrons receive sustenance for both soul and body.” 

Volunteer Story: Addie

In Volunteer Stories on March 7, 2018 at 7:22 pm
addie with soup kitchen stories

“Thank you guys for everything! I will really miss you all!” Soup Kitchen volunteer Addie launches her new career after dedicated several years of service to Holy Apostles.

Soup Kitchen volunteer coordinator Addie has big dreams on the horizon. We wished her farewell and good luck in February when she hung up her soup kitchen apron to begin training as a linguist for the U.S. Air Force.

Addie started volunteering at Holy Apostles during college, when she was taking a nutrition class and looking for a place to give back to and learn about emergency food operations.

“My first impressions of HASK were ‘Wow, this place is huge!’” she remembers. “The first time I came I was a bit nervous and not sure what to expect.” Any nerves she felt were immediately put to rest however after meeting the volunteer coordinator and being shown around. “I was impressed with how kind everyone was.”

Addie decided to come back again, and before long volunteering at the soup kitchen became a regular, weekly practice. One day, she heard the announcement for a volunteer coordinator opening and it was just the opportunity she knew she could find personal growth and valuable experience from.

“I wore many hats as a coordinator. Sometimes my job was to show new volunteers around, sometimes it was to call and confirm with groups and answer any questions they may have. Sometimes it was to type up things for the writers’ workshops, volunteer notes, or any kind of signage we needed. One time I helped at a volunteer information fair, and another time I helped a guest by calling his health insurance and trying to track down his replacement card. There was rarely a dull moment!” 

Addie believes this experience in a nonprofit environment is something that has prepared her for the future.“I realized I really find that kind of service gratifying. I’ve met people from so many different backgrounds, volunteers and guests alike, and I think that has really broadened my horizons as they say” She is also grateful for the guidance she received from our Volunteer Managers. “They have both been great mentors to me and have taught me leadership skills I hope to apply to all my future endeavors.”

Today, as Addie “takes flight” toward her new and exciting career, we are grateful for her years of devotion helping other volunteers, and helping New Yorkers find nourishment at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen. We wish her all the best!

Find out more about Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen.

Lindewe’s Story

In Guest stories, Soup Kitchen Stories on March 7, 2018 at 5:49 pm

 

Lindewean unemployed Registered Dietitian, has been homeless since the last months of 2015. For her, good nutrition is the key to sustaining her strength. “I stay in a shelter,” she says. “And there’s not always the healthy food there that I know I can find here.”

A native of Texas, the 56 year old came to New York in her twenties, when she began a decades-long career with a large health services company. But then, in her early fifties, Lindewe was laid off during a company-wide re-organization. As the months first turned to years without finding permanent employment or benefits, she turned to her cousins for a place to stay, and where she could pitch in and share expenses. Sadly, though, as New York became more expensive, her family could no longer afford to stay in the city and decided to relocate. “They all moved to Florida,” she explains. “It’s less expensive there.’

Lindewe, however, was determined to stay in the city she’s called home for most of her adult life. Priced out of the rental market, she found a womens’ homeless shelter she could stay at while she has continued to apply for positions in her field, and pick up temporary work along the way. “I have faith that something full time is going to come along. I just have to keep trying.”

As a professional in the health and nutrition field, Lindewe knew that to keep her strength up she would have to keep her diet filled with the kind of nutrition not always available at her shelter. “They serve a lot of filling foods, but it’s things like macaroni and cheese,” she says. Lindewe, who is also vegetarian, knew right away she would have to find meals that would sustain her through this rocky time. Searching on-line for alternatives, she found Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen and noted its commitment to U.S.D.A. guidelines, food sustainability and how we source fruits and vegetables from New York state farms for every meal.

“This is the main place where I get my nutrition now,” she says. “The food is fresh, healthy and nutritious.”

That’s high praise, considering Lindewe’s professional background!

Learn  more about Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

Volunteer Story: Joe

In Uncategorized, Volunteer Stories on March 7, 2018 at 3:56 pm

Joe remembers driving by Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen with his wife many years ago. A parish administrator at a church that has a small weekend emergency food service program, she knew about Holy Apostles and raved about the soup kitchen. He remembers saying, “Hmm, maybe I’ll volunteer there when I retire.”

Fast-forward to 2018 and Joe is indeed retired, and also in his ninth year volunteering at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen.  “I’ve done every job,” he says. “My favorite job used to be a runner. I like to be in the middle of things.”

Joe spent most of his career managing affiliate relations for major TV networks, but after downsizing left him searching for new work, he tried food service management for a friend who owned a restaurant. “I was there to fill in for someone, but I ended up staying, helping out with management and the books before I got offered a job at CBS.”

With his twice weekly volunteer service on the extra-bread line, it’s clear how much dedication Joe gives to every pursuit. The team of regular volunteers, he says, “is a well-oiled machine,” and he has a good time with others who share his commitment, and who he has developed friendships with.

When he doesn’t see a regular guest for a while, Joe says he gets concerned about their safety and well-being. But, he’s hopeful their absence means they no longer need emergency food. “There was one guest, he called himself ‘Scorpio,’” he recalls. “He told me he was getting housing, and then I didn’t see him again.”

If you see Joe, you can ask him about his matchbook collection and the whole world around this hobby that he’s also been dedicated to for years. “I’m a phillumenist,” he says, explaining that that’s what matchbook collectors call themselves. “It translates to ‘lover of light.’”

We’re thankful for the light Joe continues to shine on our Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen community!

Untitled (A Work in Progress)

In Uncategorized on March 2, 2018 at 3:41 pm

Reeve_and_Serfs.jpg

There once was a young peasant named Terragon who was but a humble laborer. He toiled in the muck in Earthland to the Lord of the region.

“How I dream of a finer sort of life,” mused humble Terragon. “I wonder how the Lord and Lady of the region live?”

Terragon looked up at the towering castle of stone in the daylight. Inside he visualized the Lord of the region drinking dry martinis from a golden chalice laden with jewelstones, streaming pay per view movies on his looking glass, eating leg of ham and turkey bits.

“Quit that fantersizing!” screamed a one-eyed foreman. “There’s toiling to be done.”

He cracked a large whip.

That night Terragon fell sleepwards in his thatched-roof cottage. Just as he was on the precipice of a pleasant night-dream, forgetting his woes, a specter manifested in an internal flash. Terragon leapt up in fright.

“Hello?” he said, cautiously eyeing the phantasm who appeared surrounded in ectoplasm flame with a leather v-shaped headpiece, red horns, and cape black on the outside and red within.

“Salutations, young sir, you may know me as Asmodel.”

“Welcome Asmodel, to what, might I query, bringeth me the honor of your personal audience at such a nightly hour?”

“Terragon, be not surprised that I know thou name nor of the wisdom that I possess of your secret heart. For I abode in the infernal realm of abyss and from this place many things are known to me,” Asmodel shed his cape dramatically. “For it was today that I saw you philosophizing the material world in the field. Tell me, Terragon, if you had a dream, one sole wish, what would it be?”

“Well, I ‘spose, Mr. Asmodel, mayhaps I would be enchanted, a little, by the Earth-like comforts, only the small indulgences, like mayhaps I wouldn’t have to toil about, field-wise no longer. Oh, also that I might enjoy some delicious berry tart that I so oft see being delivered to the Lord of the region’s castle. But such are only dreams, Mr. Asmodel, for I am naught but a humble serf.”

“Terragon, you are entitled to a dream, and there may be solution to your hapless position. What if I told you that I could offer you a STUDENT LOAN?”

“A student loan, Mr. Asmodel, sir? Pardon me if I’m in obscurity as to the meaning of these learned words, sir, for I am not literate being a peasant as I am.”

“Quite simply a student loan is a contract whereupon you offer unto me your immortality for gold.”

“I didn’t know I had an immortality, sir, least ways, not that I could find.”

“I mean to say your inborn soul, Terragon.”

“Excuse me for saying so sir, but it seems like a faulty constructed model of economics, for, why if serfs could trade souls, gold would be as plentiful as mothdust.”

“Yes, I suppose you are right. Well there is another way. You keep your immortality, but you must pay back your student loan in two years.”

“But I am merely a serf! How will I find the gold to pay back my loans?”

“You can make month to month payments.”

Terragon pondered dreaming of his own castle and princess. He did not want to toil in the field tomorrow, and didn’t know if he could bear another week or year of toilage. In the end Terragon accepted. A scroll appeared from black smoke and a quill, and Asmodel drafted the contract.

I, Terragon, do openly swear in covenant in my own will and by witness of the infernal familiar Asmodel,

Whereas I am a miserable serf of Earthrealm

Whereas I subsist off gruel and do toil in the muck,

Whereas I have no gold, no past, no future,

And in effect nothing to lose,

I hereby make this bing covenant to take out a student loan.

“Now you must sign your name in blood and seal the document.”

Terragon whimpered, “In blood sir?”

“Yes,” answered Asmodel, “Only in spilled blood can the student loan be sealed.”

Terragon took a needle from the nightstand and poked his pinky finger several times.

“Ouch,” he whispered.

Finally, several drops of blood spilled out and he was able to sign. Terragon was informed that the Full Moon, not this Full Moon but the next Full Moon, he would receive the first disbursement of his student loan, which came in four disbursements. Afterwards, Asmodel departed theatrically by fire and cape.

Terragon decided the next morning to depart seeing as how he now had a student loan. He was free to seek his own destiny, and it would be prudent to escape the foreman and other serfs, and start from the beginning in some other realm.

He gathered his things, a few crusts of dry bread, some scrips and scraps, half of a potato, and his lucky rock and journeyed into the wide open Earthland.

Terragon traveled the countryside until two Full Moons had passed. Inexplicably there was no sign of gold nor of Asmodel. He decided to visit an augur at the edge of the grove to see if he could contact Asmodel about the first disbursement.

“I have been expecting you,” cried an old, withered crone from the inside of a hut surrounded by chimes, and talismans, and fetishes.

Terragon travelled the countryside until he came to a large valley. Light seemed to loom over it forever. An ancient man sat in a rock. Terragon looked at the man who seemed to be staring into space absently.

“Morning, sir,” said Terragon with a cheerful tone.

The man continued gazing. This was a peculiar sight to Terragon, who had not done much travelling and had little knowledge of customs different from those of his small village.

“Might you be waiting to cross this valley, sir?”

The old man looked up, a glaze in his eyes.

He spoke in a creaking, raspy voice weathered but sure, “Me? Oh I’ve been waiting here for five thousand years.”

He draped a tattered, colorless canvas throw around his shoulders. His skin was covered in soot and his grey mouth opened to reveal he had no teeth.

“Strange, it seems I have forgotten what I was waiting for.” The remaining strands of wispy, white hair whipped about his head. He leveled a bony finger and pointed to a vast expanse of sand beneath a tempestuous black storm.

Millions of tickets fluttered the landscape each bearing a meaningless symbol in an ancient language.

“I shall warn thee, if thou shalt continue…That no man was ever known who continued from here and lived to tell the tale…”

Lightning crackled in the distance and the wind made a sucking, howling sound.

“Turn back now, child, for you are about to enter…”

The lightning and thunder really struck up, competing in volume with the old man’s futile theatre when he said, “THE DESERT OF BUREAUCRACY!!!”

He cackled a dusty, foreboding whimper, “But before you can enter, you’ll have to fill out a proof of eligibility form and provide valid I.D.”

Terragon had no I.D. and so crossed the desert alone. He travelled many weeks, suffering many hardships which I will not relate in details as they are of little interest.

At last he came to an abandoned circus. A large Ferris Wheel spun slowly and there were the rusty faces of clowns on shooting gallery games. He headed to a giant tent in the center of the ghost circus. There was a mechanical fortune-teller.

“Excuse me, I am looking for the financial aid office.”

The mechanical gypsy sprang to life, a yellow gleam in its eyes. “Yes the financial aid office – I’ll tell you where it is, but first you must answer this riddle.”

Terragon scratched his head. He was beginning to wonder, why must this be so difficult? He dared not question the gypsy for fear of making it angry.

“Sure,” he replied politely.

By Dylan