The welcomed spring temperatures brought out many to Last Night's Soup run in Manhattan where we served more than 125 hungry and homeless. Pasta and meatballs were on the menu and some commented that they were the best they had ever eaten. One guest remembered our serving "Greek lasagna" and said that was his favorite meal!
When we arrived at our spot on 33rd Street, our guests were lined up all the way down the block. They patiently waited for us to set up our tables of food and clothing and were happy to receive a hot meal. One man asked for extra meals so that he could "get through the weekend".
We witness a broad spectrum of personalities and actions from those we serve - some troubling, some heart-wrenching and some kind-hearted. Last night was no different. Some guests came back to us after taking a couple of clothing items and returned an item that they decided they didn't need so that someone else could have it. "Magic", telling us he wanted our area on the street to be left cleaner than when we arrived, was gathering up the empty food containers and throwing out the trash in garbage cans. Another man said he "heard about us two months ago" and was happy to finally meet us and enjoy our meal.
Sometimes we run out of food and clothing because we have served so many and other times an extra item seems to materialize out of nowhere just when it is needed. Last night, even though we served the last meal, guests kept approaching our tables asking for food. Thankfully, we at least had bagels, granola bars and fruit to give. And then, toward the end of the evening, a large man asked us for any clothing we might have for him. All of our bins were empty but one - it contained an extra large jacket and pants! That was all we had and it was meant for the man. We distributed a handful of remaining blankets when another guest said the only thing he needed was a blanket. One of our volunteers removed the clean moving blanket lining his car trunk and gave it to the man.
Talking with our guests and engaging them in conversation to learn about their lives, hear about their problems and simply listen when others may not are the simple things that our volunteers do that are so special. Deacon Simon and Seminarian Cornelius talked, laughed and listened to so many last night.
Our amazing group of volunteers, supporters, and sponsors make the monthly soup run possible. Thank you to Cleo Canelos for sponsoring this month's soup run, Manny Louros and Kelly Sisco for preparing the meals, Minos Samoladas' monetary donation which enables us to purchase clothing, Peter Pappas for dozens of bagels, Deb Van Der Hayden for the clothing donations, the Philoptochos and the entire Holy Trinity, New Rochelle community for all that you do. Please join us on May 31.
Our guests were lined up, waiting for us on 33rd Street in Manhattan for last night's soup run. We served lasagna, vegetables, oranges and other treats, along with the welcomed coffee and hot chocolate. We were happy to distribute clothing items, including the last of certain seasonal items like coats and blankets. Our toiletry kits were full of necessary items, including small flashlights donated by a business publication.
We met a number of our regular guests, some of whom helped us set up and serve, and others who were new to us but not new to the streets. Tom, who said he has been homeless and in prison on and off for 10 years, was very appreciative of all that we provided. He put on the sweatshirt and coat we gave him before he ate his meal. We talked with a husband and wife whom we've previously met and they asked for clothing for their six-year-old daughter. We will bring them clothes next month. The husband is protective of his wife and doesn't leave her side since she was raped in a homeless shelter.
There were many "thank you for doing this" and "God bless you" comments of appreciation from our guests. Their generosity with each other continues to impress us. As the evening was winding down, a young man approached us asking if we had any more toiletry kits. We had distributed all kits so another homeless man whom we were talking with opened up his toiletry kit and gave the young man some of his items. He told us "the stuff you guys do rubs off on us. My time here is done," and he walked away.
That is how the evening ended - another beautiful night of providing a bit of sustenance for the body, conversation and compassion for the soul and witnessing the beauty in everyone.
All that we offer to the hungry and homeless on the streets of New York is made possible through the generous donations of our growing group of volunteers and supporters. This month's soup run was sponsored in memory of Mary Mavromatis through the many donations received in her name. Thank you to Minos Samoladas for his donation which enabled us to purchase socks and underwear, Manny Louros and Zachary Karounos for preparing the meal, Kristin Calve, Publisher of Corporate Counsel Business Journal, for donating 100 flashlights, Deborah Farone for a case of toothpaste, Teddy and Maria Papatheodorou for boxes of tee shirts and baseball caps, the Holy Trinity Philoptochos and the entire community for their incredible generosity. Wishing all a blessed Easter. Kali Anastasi. We look forward to you joining us on April 26.
Fr Nick presented two checks today to Fr. Christopher Metropoulos, president of Hellenic College Holy Cross in Brookline, MA. The first check for $25,000 was presented on behalf of the V. Rev. Peter N. Kyriakos Endowment Foundation and establishes scholarships for Holy Trinity students studying theology attending HC/HC. The second check for $16,000 was a donation on behalf of our parish to support the continuation of the school's national ministry.
Dear Friends -
Everyone who needed a coat or a meal received one during last night's soup run. We served 110 meals of lemon chicken, rice, vegetables and apples to our guests on 33rd Street in New York City and in Penn Station.
We distributed 10 bins of clothing, including much-needed socks, men's and women's underwear, pants, sweaters and coats. The warm meals were received with gratitude and thanks all around. We heard comments ranging from "God bless you" to "I want to sit down and enjoy this Greek lemon chicken". One of our volunteers brought 10 new backpacks which we distributed in less than five minutes.
We met Joanne who was pulling a heavy milk crate. When asked about the crate, she said, "It's my life." Joanne needed a coat and sneakers and we were able to provide her with both. While in Penn Station distributing meals, scarves and toiletries, we met Fr. Louis, a Catholic monk. Fr. Louis runs a 30-bed homeless shelter in the Bronx and visits Penn Station monthly to minister to the homeless. He was interested to talk with us about our monthly homeless outreach and he told us how much he loves the homeless. With an affable personality and speaking Spanish, we witnessed Fr. Louis connecting with individuals in a very personal way. Our friend Chris was happy to tell us that he is moving into his own apartment today - after five years of being homeless. He'd like to return next month to help us serve.
With much gratitude, we thank a number of supporters of the soup run: Minos Samoladas for his donation which enables us to purchase socks and underwear, this month's sponsor, Eugenia Valliades, Manny Louros and Zacharay Karounos for preparing the meals, Deb van der Heyden for the backpacks, Athena Gregory and the 8th grade Sunday School class for toiletry kits and the many volunteers who humbly share their time, talent and treasures. Our monthly homeless outreach serves so many who have so little. Thank you! Please join us next month on March 29th. For those who cannot join us in Manhattan and would like to participate, we welcome donations of sweatshirts, backpacks and tote bags which may be placed in the white bin near the church offices.
Last Night’s Soup Run
by Despina Kartson
Happy New Year! We are thankful for the blessings that enabled us to begin 2018 serving the hungry and homeless again during Last Night's Soup Run. The 20 degree temperature forced many of our guests to stay indoors in the train stations and the set-up for Sunday’s Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden prevented us from serving at our usual spot. Instead, we relocated to our alternative location a block away where we served many of our meals. We also made several trips into Penn Station and distributed hot chili, rice and vegetables along with fleece blankets and hand knit scarves. And we sent Christian Glaser home on the subway with a box of 15 meals to distribute along the way. By the time he boarded the train, he had give out all the meals.
We talked with men and women who were cold and hungry and extremely grateful for what we gave them. They thanked us, blessed us and hugged us. How many of us walk past individuals just like them every day and would never think that they’d reach out for a hug? We connected with Keith who said he feels so much better after he talks with us. He said he feels as if the devil is on his shoulder always tempting him and we suggested that an angel is on his other shoulder guiding and protecting him. He brightened up and said he’d never thought about life that way. When we asked a man later in the evening how he liked the dinner we gave him, he said we “made his night”.
Thank you to the volunteers, supporters and sponsors of the Soup Run who include Deb van Der Heyden and the Yotides family in memory of their father Tommy Yotides. Special thanks, as always, to Manny Louros for cooking, Minos Samoladas for his donation which enabled us to purchase clothing for our men and women guests, Ana and Constantine Dimas for their donation of new coats, socks and t-shirts, Georgeann Mavrovitis for her diligence in preparing hundreds of toiletry kits, Cynthia Herzegovitch and Constance Mavrovitis for their sorting efforts, Alexandra King for knitting 25 scarves, and Andre Herzegovitch for the smoothie packs we gave to our guests to take with them for additional sustenance. Thank you to Manny’s neighbor, Mary Ellen Barbieri, who gave us 40 bags of sandwiches, chips and water that were decorated by children at the Scarsdale Community Baptist Church and packed by her Girl Scout troop! We could not provide warm food and clothing every month for the 125 needy souls without the support of the entire Holy Trinity Community, and beyond, and for that, we - and our guests - are immensely grateful.
We received the following note wishing us a Happy New Year: "Happy New Year 2018 to the ladies and men who help to make this world a better place and who is always given to those who need. May God bless you all for the good work you do. Thank you. Wishing you all a healthy and prosperous New Year. Have a bless, safe and wonderful day. With love."
Please join us on Thursday, February 22.
Christmas came a little early to our guests on 33rd Street during Last Night's Soup Run. We provided more than 100 sets of hats, scarves and gloves knit by our Knitting for Charity group which were packaged in holiday bags and very well received. We served 130 meals to those who were on the street and other hungry souls we found in Penn Station.
We met a number of new guests and caught up with some of our "regulars". One gentleman told us he has been on dialysis for 7 years and is getting a kidney transplant next week. He asked if there was anything left for him and we had one last hat/scarf/glove package that we happily gave to him. He said he has been clean for 9 years and that God has blessed him with a transplant. He looks forward to being in the hospital "in a nice warm bed, with food and people taking care of me".
A couple, married for 20 years and with four children, is living in a homeless shelter in the Bronx and just learned that it is closing in January. They sent their children to live with a grandmother in Puerto Rico but they were displaced after the grandmother's house was destroyed by Hurricane Maria in September. The children and grandmother are now living with other family members in Florida while the parents try to get back on their feet and bring their children "home".
One of our volunteers had a long conversation with Sol. Sol was born and raised in Morocco and moved to Manhattan when he was in his twenties. Early on, he lived in an apartment in Chelsea with a friend and worked as a chef at an Italian restaurant. During 15 years as a chef, Sol learned many cooking techniques but grew bored of the occupation and moved on. He started working in Brooklyn with a friend but was let go and could not afford his apartment which has now caused him to be out on the street. He talked about how hard it is on the street but expressed sincere gratitude for our group's generosity and efforts. He also realized that things could be worse - if he were sick or injured.
After talking with Sol about the bad times, they quickly moved on to the good: his home country Morocco. We talked about his hometown Casa Blanca, which is filled with magicians who eat glass and tame rattlesnakes. He was thrilled when he heard that Morocco had made the World Cup and that the USA hadn’t. He mentioned that about five years ago he was going to move back, said he had 10k saved up but he fell on hard times and had to spend it all to survive. Our volunteer so enjoyed talking with Sol that he is inspired to visit Sol's hometown in Morocco!
We learn and receive as much as we give when we talk with our guests. They may surprise and amaze us with the stories of their lives and perhaps most of all, we are reminded that they are people just like us.
Thank you to our special, most generous sponsors of this month's soup run: Martha Kypar in memory of Manos Kypar and Danna Copulos whose donations enabled us to purchase extra clothing items; Peter Pappas for donations of socks and oranges; Alexis Livanos for her annual Christmas cookie treats; and the Grammas family from The Greentree Country Club who provided the delicious meals of turkey, mashed potatoes and vegetables. Thank you to our many volunteers who served last night and to all who support us through their donations and work behind the scenes.
Please remember the hungry and the homeless in your prayers - always but most especially at this time of year. We are in need of warm clothing: jackets, coats, sweatshirts and blankets. Join us next month on January 25th. Wishing all a very blessed Christmas and a 2018 that is filled with good health and a happy home. #lastnightssouprun