By Despina Kartson
Last night in the torrential rain, a group of men and women patiently waited on the sidewalk in Manhattan for our group to set up food, coffee and clothing as we do every month - and as our guests have come to anticipate our time with them. We served more than 100 meals of lemon chicken, rice, vegetables, fruit, granola bars and coffee. It was difficult to keep everything dry but we worked as quickly as we could to serve the warm meals and then we went into Penn Station and distributed more meals.
In Penn Station, we met Kevin who asked us to pray for him. We said we would and then he asked us if we would pray with him at that moment. We asked Kevin what he wanted to pray for and he said "a book to read and that you won't see me out here any more". A book to read - such a simple request.
We also met one of our "regulars" who had not expected to see us because of the rain. She asked for our priest and came outside to 33rd Street to meet Fr. Patrick. She had a cart with her that was empty because her belongings were stolen when she left her cart earlier in the day to buy a cup of tea. We loaded her up with the remaining clothing we had - she took everything we offered.
A homeless Vietnam veteran, whose grandson is serving in the military in the Middle East, talked with us for a while and was grateful for food and conversation. He thanked us; we thanked him for his service. Another man told us he lost his apartment in a fire and is happy that at least he has a car to live in. We also talked with a man who had no clothes and we took him to KMart and bought a pair of pants.
Thank you to Manny for cooking the delicious meal, to our anonymous sponsor, to Minos Samoladas for his generous donation which enabled us to purchase numerous socks and underwear, and to the many volunteers who served, donated and supported our mission. Please join us next month on November 17.