Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

Archive for the ‘Who, where, how?’ Category

Judith’s Story

In Guest stories, Keeping hope alive, The worst of times, Who, where, how? on February 26, 2015 at 7:21 pm


Judith, a 47-year-old New Yorker, has been a guest at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen for over five years.

Before falling on hard times, Judith worked for the Parks Department and before then as a nurse’s aide.  But in 2010, when she and her husband both lost their jobs, they were no longer able to keep up with the rent, and evicted from their apartment.  Judith’s husband spiraled into a deep depression which led to a crack cocaine addiction. Eventually, he left Judith on her own.

Homeless and alone, Judith turned to the shelter system for help. But finding her meager possessions lost or stolen at the end of each day —  even when she had locked them up — became too much and she felt that sleeping at the airport was safer. By using a rolling suitcase that makes her look like any other traveler, Judith has been able to make JFK her home for the past three years.

Judith is grateful for the two-to-three days each week when she is able to get to the soup kitchen, where she relies on a meal that’s not only hot and appetizing, but healthy and well-balanced.  “It’s hard to find meals that include fruits and vegetables,” she says — a sentiment echoed by many of the women and men we serve.  The day she spoke to us, Judith and all of our guests enjoyed pasta with meat sauce, mixed vegetables, salad, apples, milk and juice.

Judith also appreciates the compassion and kindness of staff and volunteers alike.  “Everyone is so good here.  They treat you like they care.  They go out of their way to help.

Recently, that help has included a voucher for the warm winter coat Judith wears on these bitterly cold days.  Help has also come in the form of her participation in the Writers’ Workshop where she has been able to access her own creativity for the first time since childhood and to find a way to break out of isolation by connecting with others.

Along with all the help and support that she gets from the soup kitchen, Judith loves the music and the musicians who share their talent and time.  The Thursday we spoke to Judith, Karen Taborn was at the grand piano.  As she played Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ’bout a Thing” for a few moments on a cold February day — and thanks to our donors and volunteers — the soup kitchen was able to ease the worries and burdens of our all guests, including Judith.


Ricky’s Story

In Guest stories, Soup Kitchen Stories, Uncategorized, Volunteer Stories, Who, where, how? on December 2, 2014 at 9:39 pm

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Ricky was homeless when he first came to Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen for lunch as a guest.  “Drugs and drinking were taking a toll on me,” he says, ” I was doing that because I was homeless. I had no hope. Everything was gone. When you’re homeless you don’t care about nothing. I numbed the pain of being homeless and hurting inside.”

Through the years, Ricky has faced a lot of loss within his own family, including his own divorce during his mid twenties. Two of his nine sisters and one of his three brothers have died of HIV related physical and mental complications. Another brother is living with HIV.

“I should be dead,” Ricky says,” I was blessed not to have it because of my own high risk behaviors.”

Like many homeless people, Ricky got to know the streets of New York. He noticed the long line around Holy Apostles Church and learned about the soup kitchen by talking to other guests. As he began eating lunch here on a regular basis, Ricky  found acceptance and “a love that was shown by the staff who were walking around and talking to me. The food was good, and a healthy quality” he recalls, “I kept coming back for the food, the service and the good, smiling faces.”

Then, through the support services and counseling offered at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, Ricky received vouchers for clothing, toiletries, phone calls, and even referrals to other places for food and showers.

“I became strong. I was like a dead flower but the love, caring and concern here made me blossom and bloom. Hope started coming back.”

Because of the emotional and practical support he received at the soup kitchen, Ricky had the strength to seek out housing resources on his own through other outlets and find the substance abuse treatment services he needed to continue his road to recovery. In 2010, when his housing situation had stabilized and he was clean and sober he approached our volunteer coordinator to see what he could do to give back.

Today, not only is Ricky a volunteer at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, he has also completed  a Manhattan based  HIV peer counseling program.

“I believe my calling is to help. This is the lifestyle I came from. I have empathy. I want to be a teacher to the younger generation.”





A Place I Know Well

In Who, where, how? on March 11, 2014 at 7:59 pm


It is in my little apartment, right on the side of my bed. It is my desk. For long hours, for about six to seven years, I sat behind this desk every morning, noon and night, stoned, drunk or smashed out of my mind like a ship’s captain in charge of a voyage to nowhere. I wrote every night, every word with my heart racing. This place, my desk became the slum of my little New York apartment. It is littered with scraps of paper on which are my notes, my thoughts, and doodles. You see, writing screenplays is tough – as a matter of fact, the act of writing itself, for me turned into something shameful and disgusting.

The question that haunts and nags and won’t completely let go is this one: Who am I when I write?

I’m a crazy man. I have delusions and visions. I write them down on little scraps of paper as notes – then these notes, I write them down into screenplays in the hope that someday they will turn into blockbuster films and that people may pay me to watch them.

It is at this place I know well, my writing desk, that I have come to realize that I’m not a slice-of-life writer. That is not me. I’m not the one to shout, “look at me! Look how good this is! Hey guys, my heart is turned inside out.” It is at this very place that I know well that I ask myself, “who am I when I write?”

By King Molapo

Empty Apartment

In Poetry, Who, where, how? on October 10, 2013 at 6:13 pm


Come home empty apartment, photos on wall and bookshelf and fireplace mantle of people I don’t know.

Someone is ringing my bell 3am. Who the hell is it – if it’s not important they are getting cold water on their face – Who is it? – Police- Police-open up- emergency. What is the emergency – Your building is on fire – let’s go let’s go – running out of the house down the block in my pj’s, its only 50 degrees – still cold.

Firefighters shooting water at the fire rising – it’s not working. Watering – 3 hours – they escorted us to a shelter – for 3 days we stayed hoping my apartment wasn’t badly burned.

Finally I signed out – checked on my home – I walked in, it’s empty no furniture, no refrigerator, all of my stuff is gone. All of my stuff is gone all my belongings. Its real quiet no family, there are pictures of other people on my wall and bookshelf. I don’t recognize them or know them – Am I dreaming? Do I have schizo? Maybe I am in the wrong house. No my key fits – what the hell is going on – Then a person comes out of the back room – Who are you – What are you doing here – in my house. This is my house I live here – I have a key and a rent receipt – bullshit.

My time machine brought me back to my mom’s house – get the hell out.

By Precious

How to be a man (or at least create the ideal one!)

In Who, where, how? on August 19, 2013 at 6:49 pm


This delicious recipe guarantees a decent man who will be there to comfort and protect you and travel this road we call life.  You may adjust how much of the ingredients you want in this recipe or add a little zest of your own!  However, this is a fail proof recipe to ensure the quality of the man.  There may be a lot that has to go into making the ideal man but in the end it is worth it.  Pssst…the secret is in the seasonings!

La recette pour l’homme ideal

–  One Man (from a good stock)

  • This is one part of the recipe that can be attenuated according to needs.  Short/tall, thin-framed/broad-shouldered, brunette/blonde/redhead, zodiac sign, blue/black/green/hazel/grey eyes, etc.  Just make sure he’s breathing!

             -> Author’s side note: Also, look at his mother.  As the old adage goes, if you want your man to treat you like a princess, make sure he was raised by a Queen!

–  One hefty helping of Intelligence (no substitutions!)

  • I’m not talking about Einsteinian intelligence (though I wouldn’t digress from the individual if he was that gifted!).  The ideal man would be an invigorating conversationalist, would have an awesome sense of humor and would be curious about the world around him and ask why things are the way they are.  He would want to solve the problems of the world, not add to them.  Even though he may be right, he lets the opinions of others, like his potential mate, be voiced as to not become arrogant.

             -> Author’s side note: If man becomes too arrogant, discard immediately and start from scratch again.

–  A steady stirring of a job

  • We understand times are tough but we do want a man who takes care of his own, be it emotionally or in this part of the recipe, financially.  Years ago, this recipe produced men who worked nearly as the day was long to provide for his family of six, seven, eight or even more and never went into debt with anyone in doing so.  Today, there are many artificial men that just sit around playing video games all day long and let their parents pay their way through life.  You want to have children with him, not baby him as well!

–  A dash of Classical Romance embedded in a bouquet garni satchet

  • Add this recipe in the hopes that he will surprise you with a bouquet of flowers not only on special days but on days where you cross his mind.  This could be at work, when someone sharing the same elevator wears the same perfume as you do and it immediately brings you to mind.  Tell him of your girlish frivolities so that when he knows of your love of ladybugs, he will surprise you with a ladybug timer he just happened to lay his eyes upon.

             -> Author’s side note: Recipe strictly calls for classical romance, not for a Harlequin one.  Today’s woman is strong and a capable individual – we want a man to romance our minds as well as our bodies.  The tiniest gesture of thoughtfulness will yield great results.  We are not into the Fabio frou-frou universe of rainbows and unicorns.  We want him to still desire us when our hormones have gone haywire, when we have an outbreak of pimples, when we are drenched with perspiration from our flu-induced fever or when his child’s spit-up is on our holey t-shirt.

–  A sprinkle of Compassion and Emotion

  • We want the ideal man to have empathy and to be compassionate to all those that he shares this world with.  We want him to help the homeless and not pass by someone begging for a meal.  We want him to pull over his car and take that cat that another driver had hit to the veterinarian, not run over it as well!  We want him to stay up all night, or at least taking turns, when his child is sick with an earache.  When his woman cries, he will have sympathy for her and ask what is wrong.  And when she says nothing, he will (now this is a tricky part of the recipe!  Pay attention!) not assume that everything is indeed alright, but ask her again after he has held her for a couple of silent moments.

–  A pinch of Masculinity

  • The majority of women today don’t need someone who can rip a phonebook in half.  He doesn’t need to wrestle with crocodiles or wrangle poisonous snakes just to prove he is a man.  We just want someone who complements our femininity.

             -> Author’s side note: I know this part of the recipe does not call for a He-Man but it goes without saying that we do need someone who isn’t timid in certain situations.  When we women are standing on top of our beds because there is a waterbug in the house, screaming fearfully at the top of our lungs, we want our manly men to take care of business, not join in on the hysterics.

–  A clove of Honesty

  • This is another crucial ingredient in making the ideal man.  Relationships cannot flourish on the foundation of lies.  Be upfront about everything because women are oft-forgiving about many situations.

             -> Author’s side note¹: Women have built-in intuition.  We will know when you are lying.  We will know…

             -> Author’s side note²: If you think you can get away with your secret and for a moment believe that she will never find out about it, go back to the previous side note in recipe and repeat.

–  A cup of Faith

  • For the majority of us women, nothing screams sexy than a man humbled by a Higher Power.  A man of faith is strong in the worldly sense but has the common sense to surrender over his fears to GOD.  He is not intimidated or feels himself emasculated when in times of need or loss of sense of direction and purpose he turns to GOD for help.  As another proverb goes, “He who kneels before GOD can stand up to anyone.”

             -> Author’s side note: For comparison, refer to the movie Rocky II when big, beefy boxer Rocky is constantly seen praying and kneeling, not only for a victory in his fight against Apollo Creed but for his comatose wife.

Cook for ­­___ (enter preference of age here) and wait till he turns into a gentleman.  Turn over once for necessary life experiences and take out when it becomes apparent that he is the ideal man for you!  Garnish with love and serve immediately.  Bon appetit! 

By Rosetta Miletti North

Charlie, the Bug Guy

In Stories, secrets & dreams, Who, where, how? on August 8, 2013 at 8:13 pm


You meet a lot of interesting and friendly people, both among the other volunteers and our guests, when volunteering at Holy Apostle Soup Kitchen. They come from all walks of life and many have fascinating stories to tell.

One such person is my friend, Charlie (we’re not real big on last names at HASK). He’s a six foot three ex-school teacher with bushy white hair and mustache a great smile and terrific sense of humor. One of other volunteers says she thinks he resembles Tom Selleck. Maybe, but I don’t really see it. I met Charlie at lunch one Friday and we quickly became friends. He usually works the outside door and it’s allowed him to get to know many of our visitors by their first names, their lives and their hardships. He participates in the HASK Writers Workshop and I recently attended one of their readings. After listening to heir readings it helped to get to know many of them better as well.

Early on at lunch on Friday we were discussing our plans for the weekend. I didn’t have anything in particular planned but Charlie said he was planning on attending the bug and reptile show at the Westchester Center in White Plains. This quickly got all of the people at the table very interested and we all questioned “Why?” Charlie proceeded to tell us that one of his hobbies was collecting and raising tarantulas, scorpions and giant centipedes which he keeps in his basement. He told us of their eating habits and the fact that, contrary to popular belief, their bite isn’t lethal although the bite of a giant centipede can be very painful. I’ll take his word on this since I have no desire to find out for myself. Needless to say this hobby of Charlie’s quickly became the talk of the table and, after that, he became know as the bug guy to a number of people.

One Friday Sister Cecilia came and sat with us and we enlightened her about Charlie’s hobby. Ever since when she sits with us she refers to Charlie as “tarantula man” and questions him about their latest exploits. He’s brought in pictures of one his prized tarantulas, one of which is easily the size of a dinner plate and he gladly shares tales of any pregnancies, new additions and any recent purchases.

Yes, we all have interesting hobbies and Charlie’s is certainly an unusual one but hey, I always say to each his own. Charlie may be bug guy to some and tarantula man to Sister Cecilia but to me he is a friend and so much more.

By Joe


In Guest stories, Who, where, how? on June 29, 2013 at 11:31 am


Facebook. What is this thing called Facebook?

I have never been more confused and frustrated. Many of my friends and family talk about FB like it is the greatest. I signed on to it about six weeks ago out of curiosity and desire to be on the bandwagon. Now what am I supposed to do? I have no clue. I took Facebook for Dummies out of the library and my confusion is deeper than ever.

“Poke,” “Friend,” “Unfriend,” “Ignore,” “Accept,” “Wall.” What do all these words mean? It’s like learning a new language. I hesitate to click on these words for fear of letting a virus or God-knows-what into my computer.

Don’t these people on Facebook have anything better to do? I can’t believe the stupid stuff they post, and the photos, videos, and links they attach. Get a life, everyone!

One of my friends, whom I have known for nearly 35 years, is so chatty I don’t have to call or e-mail her to find out everything she and her family are up to. I feel like telling her, “Margie, enough already… You are telling the world too much.”

While looking at my Wall two nights ago, I discovered a posting from FB that said I had blocked one of my cousins twice that day. I did no such thing, and quickly e-mailed her to set things straight. Why did this happen? Again, I have no clue.

In spite of all this, FB does have its good side. I have reconnected with two nieces I had lost contact with. I joined a group of my former high school classmates. It’s great to see all these names and faces again. At this point in our lives, many are marrying off their children and becoming grandparents. But do I need to be reminded that I am now in that age category? I am ready to opt out.

By Lois Skaretka


In Prose, Stories, secrets & dreams, Uncategorized, Who, where, how? on April 4, 2013 at 4:31 pm


Oh, wow, I am falling.  Free and unencumbered through outer space.  This is not the way it’s supposed to be.  I should be in a capsule or the space shuttle, but I am falling through the air on my own.  I can’t believe I can breathe; I hope I don’t run out of air before I get to the ground.  What have I gotten myself into?

The perspective from up here is so different than when I am in a plane.  I can see so much more of the world below as I fall – the stars, the planets, the continents, the oceans, the clouds.

How long is this going to take?  What will happen when I reach the earth?  Will I hit hard and splatter into a bloody mess?  I hope not.  Then this will all be for naught and there will be no sharing this experience with the world.  I am falling, I am falling.

God, get me out of here!

by Lois Skaretka

The Mind Travels

In Keeping hope alive, Poetry, Who, where, how? on March 21, 2013 at 5:09 pm


The mind travels,

then it gets there.

To see something that you saw,

then you know.

A hint.

A birthday –

you buy something for yourself,

a holiday you share with a friend.

And by the crossroads,

you say ‘hi’ to everybody else.

by Maurice

Image Crossroads (C) by www.martin-liebermann.de –  prints available from martin-liebermann.fineartamerica.com

Where I Am From

In Who, where, how? on March 7, 2013 at 4:13 pm

map_of_africaI am from Uganda, the eye of the skull-shaped African continent. And from the eye I am. The lush, hot African landscape receded and a Canadian one took its place in my life. Cold, long winters and free roaming wolf-dog hybrids as numerous as snowflakes were my morning. Then in the afternoon, the Canadian canvas was replaced with an American one. Washington serenaded me with star-spangled anthems as I ate hot apple pie at the ballgame. But as the twilight fell, the ghosts of all the dead Indians roamed in the growing darkness, like the wolf dogs of Canada, and the lions of Africa.

The ghosts of the Indians found their way onto this page.

Peter Nkruma