A large group was lined up and waiting for us at last night's soup run in Manhattan. We couldn't get to our usual spot because of an event at Madison Square Garden preventing access to the street so we relocated to our alternative spot a block away. The word was already out and by the time we arrived, our guests were waiting patiently. Some helped us set up tables and serve. Two tourists from North Carolina saw what we were doing and helped distribute socks. We served 125 sandwiches, fruit, granola bars, coffee and water with - - received with much appreciation.
We gave the special request items to those who had asked for sneakers and clothes and they were overwhelmed with gratitude. I saw more hugs between our volunteers and guests last night than ever before.
At one point, we were reminded of the decency of those we serve and how they expect (and deserve) to be treated. We were taking a photo of a group talking with one of our volunteers, careful not to photograph their faces for privacy reasons. One of the homeless men stepped aside and quietly suggested that the next time we take pictures, we not take them of any of their faces. We showed him the photo that did not capture any faces, other than those of our own group, and assured him that we are always respectful of their privacy. The calmness and consideration he displayed during this exchange was a lesson, on several levels, for all.
Survival is what the homeless do on the streets of NY. They find ways to keep things together - whether it's creatively securing the belt they are wearing by inserting a pen through holes (Fr. Patrick bought the man a new belt!), or carrying around a folder of important personal papers including a social security card, or asking for extra granola bars and sandwiches for a meal the next day. We met the working homeless as well. One man, who delivers packages for Amazon, is happy to have a full time job but does not yet have enough money to open a checking account in order to rent an apartment so he sleeps on a friend's couch while he saves money.
Thank you to all who gave of their time, talent and treasures yesterday as the sandwiches were prepared by Manny, Zachary, Kelly, Voula, Despina and her sons. Our loyal group of cheerful volunteers distributed toiletries, socks, men's and women's underwear, pants, shorts, shoes and flip flops - all donated or made possible through the monetary donations of individuals including Minos Samoladas. Thank you to Harry Wilson and family for sponsoring last night's soup run. Please join us on the last Thursday of the month - August 31 - when our guests will be expecting us. Share this with your friends #lastnightssouprun.