by Despina Kartson
The torrential rain didn't stop us from venturing out to serve our guests during last night's soup run. By the time we arrived at our spot in Manhattan, the skies cleared, the downpour subsided to a drizzle and we served more than 125 meals to the large group who were waiting for us. No matter what the weather, those who are hungry or homeless still need to eat.
Our guests were exceptionally grateful - thanking us for "coming out in this weather", saying "God bless you for what you do", and expressing appreciation for the delicious meal. A couple of our guests helped us set up and serve. One man told us that he remembered we provided food an extra day last month, on Orthodox Good Friday, and remarked about how kind he thought it was that we wouldn't miss one of our regular evenings.
We talked with a homeless Vietnam veteran who stays in various shelters because he cannot afford rent and food - it's one or the other. He showed us the ID card he carries which identifies him as a 9/11 survivor. He was working on the 86th floor in one of the World Trade Center towers when he heard an explosion. The noise reminded him of his time in Vietnam and he knew something was terribly wrong. He said he immediately started making his way down the building, assisting others along the way and noted how "everyone was the same color" when he made it outside to the rubble and ash covered streets. After 9/11, his life turned into a downward spiral as he struggled with addiction and homelessness. Today, he said he is clean, volunteers helping teens with addiction and talking with them about survival - even as he survives every day without a home and wondering about his next meal.
We received an extraordinary financial donation from a close friend of one of our volunteers. The friend owns a restaurant in Florida, knows about our monthly Soup Run and donated money that was inadvertently left by a customer on the counter of the restaurant. When the money was not claimed for quite some time, the restauranteur gave the money to our volunteer so that she could provide clothing for the homeless. The restaurant owner wishes that the customer who left the cash behind knows that the money has been put to very good use. What an amazing gesture!
Every month we are grateful to all who so generously support, through their actions and their offerings, the mission of the Soup Run. This month's outreach was made possible by supporters and volunteers from Westchester County, NY; New York City; Norwalk, CT; New Jersey; Washington, DC; and Clearwater Beach, FL:
Kathy Tzortzides for her sponsorship
Manny Louros and Zachary Karounos for preparing the meals
Minos Samoladas and Paulette Poulos for their generous donations which enabled us to purchase much-needed socks and underwear
Maria Altikatis (Clearwater Beach, FL) for her generous donation which provided many new clothing items
Emmy Kalmanides for baking koulourakia
The New Jersey Philoptochos Metropolis for donating back to our Soup Run money raised from the sale of
Last Night's Soup Run
Ruth and Kevin Walter from Dobbs & Bishop Fine Cheese (www.dobbsandbishop.com) for a box of new backpacks
Nathan Darling of Beveridge & Diamond PC for a box of hats and hand sanitizer
Deborah Farone for toiletries and clothing
Irene Drivas for the bags of clothing, shoes and special request items
May Vlachos (St. George NYC) for preparing the Mental Health Clinic guide and including the Soup Run dates
Constance and Georgeann Mavrovitis and Cynthia Herzegovitch for organizing the clothing and toiletries
Please join us on June 27th.