And now we're making some new ones! This past year, St. Paul's began a breakfast ministry called Neighbor to Neighbor. Dad and Pat have been heavily involved since its inception, and I was happy to go work with them (even though we had to get up at 5am). Here's a blurb from a local paper:
Every Thursday morning, a core group of volunteers meets at 6:00 a.m. to cook breakfast for anyone who is hungry. From 6:30 to 8:30 a.m., eggs, sausage, bacon, kolachis, biscuits, refried beans, and tortillas are served. Hot and cold cereal, fresh fruit, milk, juice, and coffee round out the menu. The guests now number from 135 to 185 and include all ages and races. Families, the disabled, homeless, elderly, socioeconomically disadvantaged and college students are among the guests that are fed. The guests are encouraged to eat all they want – 185 to 235 plates of food are served. Everyone is given a sack lunch as they leave.
It was pretty amazing how well they carry this out. It wasn't that I doubted they'd do well; it's just difficult for anyone to do things like this well, in ways that are good and sustainable, both for those served and for those who do the serving. But they seem to run like a well-oiled machine. Several things made this possible.
- First, they have the money to get semi-prepared food, which they can then quickly finish off in large, commercial-sized appliances. (Let's face it, money can make lots of things much, much easier.)
- However, they also operate really well together. Volunteers arrive, get their stuff, do their jobs and do them well. They are genuinely happy to see the folks when they arrive.
- The atmosphere is warm and welcoming. There is carpet on the floor, nice round table where folks can see each other and carry on conversations. There is a flower on each table, and volunteers circulating with coffee to refill their cups. Several people have commented on how much they look forward to the meal.
- They have a truly sweet spirit of generosity. When they put me on the serving line, I asked, "How much should I give each person?" The volunteer looked at me kinda funny and said, "As much as they want." That's the spirit! Again, being able to afford virtually unlimited food makes this much easier, but they are unfailing generous with those blessings.
- And perhaps most importantly, they are getting to know the folks who come on a regular basis. People are addressed by their names, those who aren't there are inquired after, and conversations continue from week to week. Relationships are being formed.
Anyway, here are some pics from the morning I was there.
Here's my dad Bill, probably telling a good story (that's probably mostly true!)
My stepmom Pat and our longtime friend Tom, finishing up the prep