- Voice of a Guest…Tamar
- Voice of a Volunteer…Larry
- FEEDING5000: Partnering with Others to End Hunger and Food Waste
- Bite Sized
Voice of a Guest…Tamar
For Tamar, living frugally and coming to the soup kitchen for the past year while managing chronic pain has meant she can afford to stay in her own home. It’s a situation she never imagined would happen to her just ten years ago.
She and her sixty five year old husband raised their children on both her salary as a supervising nurse in home healthcare, and his salary as a middle school robotics and wood-shop teacher. But, she says,
“Sadly, it’s gotten harder and harder for the middle class to make it.”
Tamar remembers their simple but comfortable life when the couple were both busy parents and professionals, steadily preparing for – and looking forward to – retirement. When the economy crashed in 2007 however, she says, “All our savings went.”
Then, at the same time that they were coping with this huge financial setback, and resolving to recover as much as they could through hard work, Tamar began to suffer leg pain and weakness that slowly got worse. It wasn’t until her symptoms led to an emergency hospital visit that she was finally diagnosed with a chronic disease that requires daily treatment. Determined to keep working as long as she could, Tamara managed the pain from the disease until early last year when the physical demands of her job became just too much for her to bear.
“Now, I’m on Medicaid but I’m in that in-between age,” she explains. “I’m not quite eligible for social security.”
By living carefully on her husband’s social security benefits since he retired last year, and on what little they were able to save since the recession, the couple has just pennies to spare at the end of each month. But, she says, describing the unpredictable symptoms of her illness, “You’re only just one medical emergency away from losing everything. I want to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
A healthy and nutritious meal every day at the soup kitchen helps her to manage her illness too.
“The meals are well thought out and top quality, which means I can get the protein and vegetables I need to stay healthy,” she says, adding, “I love the kale salad!”
For Tamar the meals at the soup kitchen makes just enough of a difference in their budget so they can stay in New York, the only community she has even known, her home. “I knew about the soup kitchen for years,” Tamar remarks. “And I’m just so thankful it was still here in my time of need.”
After Larry retired from a successful banking career, his good friend told him about the rewarding
volunteer positions in the social services program at Holy Apostles. “I had always wanted to volunteer at a soup kitchen, so I gave it a try,” Larry recalls about his first day here in 2014.
With the support of other volunteers and staff, Larry caught on quickly to the job of meeting one-to-one with our guests, listening and counseling them about their options for health, housing, employment resources and benefits.
“The social services team was very knowledgeable and I was impressed with the training I received at the beginning,” Larry remembers, adding, “I used what I learned working with people in banking: identifying their needs, helping them move in the right direction, motivating them.”
Since those first few days, Larry has been part of the life of the soup kitchen more than he could ever have imagined. In 2015 he signed on as one of our computer lab teachers, and he has been an avid fundraiser for our annual Fast-A-thon. The 70-year-old long distance runner isn’t new to marathons and giving his all to whatever he’s involved in.
“I’m naturally competitive,” he laughs.“But when friends support me in the Fast-A-Thon, that’s something special … that feels good.”
Larry knows how much success can depend on support and encouragement from others. Thinking about the guests he’s helped along the way he says, “When they come back, after they’ve gotten a job, or the help they needed, and they’ve said ‘thank you’ for my help — that feels really good too!”
The Numbers Behind Our Soup Kitchen Stories
Our third annual soup kitchen guest survey was conducted in April to help us understand how best we can meet the changing needs of our guests.
Every day our social services and outreach programs are here for over half of our guests who are still homeless, and we’re encouraged to see that so many more guests have a place to call home.
We can also see that continued annual cuts to food stamps that began in 2014 mean low income New Yorkers must still rely on us for nutrition during their workday.
What could be the most alarming result is the percentage of young adults in need of daily meals and support: this number has more than doubled in two years. And, sadly, as the general “baby boomer” population grows older, so do our guests. More and more New Yorkers over the age of 65 are homeless or food insecure.
1 in 6 New Yorkers go hungry every day and for many of our guests, their meal at the soup kitchen is their only meal for the day.
Our annual Fast-A-Thon, held one week before Thanksgiving, is a bold and effective way to make a difference in the lives of hungry New Yorkers. By pledging to eat only one meal on November 17th, like many of our guests do every day, you can raise awareness about chronic hunger, and raise money to help us continue serving a meal every weekday, including our traditional Thanksgiving meal.
Holy Apostles Interim Executive Director, the Right Rev. Andrew R. St. John, will be joining the Fast-A-Thon for the first time this year. He explained, “By coming together as a community to fast and raise much needed funds for the soup kitchen, we are also reminded that our guests’ hunger is real, is urgent and requires our attention and care.”
Signing up as an individual or a team is easy.
With your personalized fundraising page that links to our overall goal and social media presence, you can share with your family and friends why ending hunger for New Yorkers most in need is important. Your commitment may even make someone else hungry for change too!
For more information, contact Hannah Albee at 646-998-6104.
FEEDING5000: Partnering with Others to End Hunger and Food Waste
This year, Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen joined forces with Feedback, an environmental non-profit organization dedicated to ending food waste and hunger. The work of Feedback and its founder Tristam Stuart had just been featured in the March issue of National Geographic when we teamed up with them for their first “Feeding the 5000” event in Union Square in May.
Partnering with a coalition of like-minded organizations, chefs and The Rockefeller Foundation to “Take Food Waste off the Menu,” we helped feed more than 5,000 New Yorkers in Union Square with our own Ratatouille, made right here at the soup kitchen, To make that happen, dozens of volunteers turned out for our Disco Chop Part to dice, chop and peel donated vegetables that would have otherwise gone to waste.
“Our dedication to preparing 1000 meals every weekday using food sustainable best practices made this a natural fit for us to go all out and be a big part of raising awareness about the link between food waste and hunger with Feedback,” says Operations Director Michael Ottley. “In total, we made enough Ratatouille to not only feed more than 5000 in Union Square, but also 5000 to deliver to area programs, including our own guests on the day of the event… all without any interruption to our regular service.”
On September 24th, STREET REQUIEM, a contemporary choral work in honor of those who have died on the streets, will make its Carnegie Hall debut with proceeds benefiting Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen and our partners in homeless outreach. Sing The World, an Australian based organization created by Jonathon Welch is the producer of the event and is generously donating 50% of the net tickets sales revenue to the Soup Kitchen.
Created by Kathleen McGuire, Andy Payne and Jonathon Welch, STREET REQUIEM aims to bring a sense of peace, remembrance and hope to communities struggling with street violence. This premiere New York performance will star acclaimed Mezzo soprano Frederica Von Stade and be the culmination of a Concert for Hope performance with favorite Broadway stars. Tickets are available.
By leaving a gift to Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, you can be a positive and enduring influence on the lives of our guests for many years to come. Planned Giving is a way to leave your legacy to many people in need through bequests or trusts, gifts of stock, mutual fund shares, life insurance and retirement plan assets. For more information please contact Jane Van Ingen at (212) 924-0167.
We recently held our annual writers’ workshop public reading, a time to gather and share creative poems, short stories and nonfiction. You can order your copy of this year’s anthology and learn more about our writers’ workshop by calling Hannah Albee at 646-998-6104. We also welcome you to keep up to date with new, eclectic creative writing from our guests, volunteers and neighbors on our Food for the Soul blog.
2016 From Farm to Tray: Exceeding Expectations!
With the help of over 300 new and familiar faces in our soup kitchen community we exceeded our spring fundraiser goal and substantially raised the bar on fundraising fun! Plans are already under way for next year, but in the meantime, you can see the memories in our photo album on facebook. And, if you weren’t able to be at From Farm to Tray this year, you can watch a moving tribute to our guests and volunteers shown on the night of the event.
As you gear up for your holiday shopping this Fall, don’t forget there’s a simple way to give to your loved ones while also giving to hungry and homeless New Yorkers. When shopping online, log in to Amazon and set your charity as Holy Apostles. Then, for every gift you buy, .5% of the purchase price will go towards helping our guests at the Soup Kitchen.