Voices Newsletter–Summer 2017

Voices of Guests: Lindewe and Duane

In this issue of VOICES, we examine the cost of long-term unemployment through the stories of highly skilled professionals who now rely on the soup kitchen for daily meals.

LindeweLindewe, an unemployed Registered Dietician, has been homeless since the last months of 2015. For her, good nutrition is the key to sustaining her strength. “I stay in a shelter,” she says. “And there’s not always the healthy food there that I know I can find here.”

A native of Texas, the 56 year old came to New York in her twenties, when she began a decades-long career with a large health services company. But then, in her early fifties, Lindewe was laid off during a company-wide re-organization. As the months first turned to years without finding permanent employment or benefits, she turned to her cousins for a place to stay, and where she could pitch in and share expenses. Sadly, though, as New York became more expensive, her family could no longer afford to stay in the city and decided to relocate. “They all moved to Florida,” she recalls. “It’s less expensive there.’

Lindewe, however, was determined to stay in the city she’s called home for most of her adult life. Priced out of the rental market, she found a womens’ homeless shelter she could stay at while she has continued to apply for positions in her field, and pick up temporary work along the way. “I have faith that something full time is going to come along. I just have to keep trying.”

As a professional in the health and nutrition field, Lindewe knew that to keep her strength up she would have to keep her diet filled with the kind of nutrition not always available at her shelter. “They serve a lot of filling foods, but it’s things like macaroni and cheese,” she said, saying that she knew immediately she would have to find meals that would sustain her through this rocky time.

While searching on-line for alternatives, Lindewe, who is also vegetarian, found Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen and noted its commitment to U.S.D.A. guidelines, food sustainability and how we source fruits and vegetables from New York state farms for every meal.

“This is the main place where I get my nutrition now,” she says. “The food is fresh, healthy and nutritious.” That’s high praise, considering Lindewe’s professional background!

DuaneAfter eleven years enjoying a successful flight attendant career, Duane recalls how he “lost everything” when the airline he worked for went bankrupt in 2007 and he was laid off, just as the economy crashed. At that time, at the age of 34, the job market all but completely dried up, and Duane soon found himself not only out of work, but no longer able to afford his rent or enough food to eat. As his savings dwindled, Duane found himself unable to keep up with rent, and has been living intermittently in shelters and on the street for much of the last ten years.

Duane describes what a monumental task it is to re-ignite the career he loved so much, as one year has turned to the next, and surviving each day has become a job in itself. Along the way, Duane has indeed found some temporary work, mainly using his skills in the hospitality field and as a restaurant waiter. But he has never given up hope for returning to the career he loved so much. “I’m thankful for this soup kitchen,” he says, “it carries me over, both in and out of jobs.”

It would be easy for anyone to give up hope after all this time enduring the trauma of homelessness and long-term unemployment. But Duane says the soup kitchen has played a major role in his resolve to keep going, one day at a time.

“I’m not ready to quit,” he says. “And being here is part of not being ready to quit.”

Originally from Panama, Duane grew up in a middle class California neighborhood before he and his family later moved to the New York area. “I had a good education, and learned four languages,” he recalls, “I had to push myself in school. I still push myself.”

With that independent spirit, Duane says, he has not wanted to burden his family now with his troubles, and, he tells us, the community at the soup kitchen helps him when he’s discouraged. “Everybody here treats me wonderfully,” he says. “I like coming here for food, and I also have a good time with others around the table.”

On the day he told us his story, Duane had just picked up a haircut voucher from our social services program, because, he said, there was an important appointment on his calendar. In two days he was scheduled to interview for a flight attendant position at a major airline carrier. Excited and feeling hopeful about this opportunity he remarked, “This place is a bridge to life – this is what’s getting me to where I need to be.”


Voice of a Volunteer: Allen Arthur

Allen

Five year volunteer Allen Arthur remembers his first day at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, shortly after Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012. Before working the tray station, he was quickly welcomed during the morning volunteer social hour. “A group of people saw me sitting alone and said ‘Come over and sit with us.’”

His motivation for coming back each week is simple; he loves being of service to others.

“I believe every time we feed somebody, they have another chance,” he says. “That meal could be the meal they have in their stomach when they go to a job interview.”

He remembers meeting one such guest while working the front door as a greeter. “He was working this job and they weren’t paying him. It was really hard, but he was interviewing for another job.” When the guest came back two weeks later, he told Allen “I got the job! I think you were my good luck charm!”

After Allen had been volunteering for a couple of years, he was asked to take on more responsibility as a volunteer coordinator. “It’s been a joy. It allows me more time to chat with volunteers and has freed me up to speak with more guests.”

Through his volunteer service, Allen finds parallels to his work as a journalist and his stories about the criminal justice system. “The people who come here aren’t just numbers, they’re stories,” he says. “And the first thing about those stories is that it’s never the stereotypical story about why they’re homeless or why they’re at a soup kitchen.”

Allen has also been one of our dedicated Fast-A-Thon fundraisers. “The Fast-At-Thon is an almost spiritual experience for me.” says Allen. “Many people walk around NYC and take for granted that we can go in and eat the thing producing that delicious smell….Imagine being confronted with all that and being totally unable to participate.”

What really sets Holy Apostles apart, Allen says, is the welcoming atmosphere and the kindness of the many dedicated volunteers.

“We’re doing this because we feel some combination of love, dedication, and obligation, some calling to this. That feeling that this place really has peoples’ backs, that’s important to me.”


2017 Survey: The Numbers Behind Our Stories

Around 1,000 diverse guests walk through our doors every weekday, each with their own story. Our annual guest survey, just completed in April, helps us form a clearer picture of our guest population to help us best serve their needs.

This year’s survey results tell us that just over half of guests surveyed are homeless, the same as last year. However, more of our homeless guests report living on the street while fewer are staying in city shelters. Fortunately, along with our daily meal, we are here to provide refuge from harsh weather and other dangers of life on the city streets.

Many of the remaining guests are at risk of becoming homeless. 13% percent of those surveyed reported that they are temporarily staying with someone else and don’t have a permanent home of their own. And for many of our guests who are housed, eating meals at the soup kitchen means they don’t have to make the choice between buying nutritious food and keeping a roof over their heads.


Ballet Plants Seeds of Awareness

In April, TheEdwardMorganBallet honored Earth Day and “planted seeds of awareness” with three benefit performances of “The Creation.” Dancing, singing and reciting spoken word poetry in our sanctuary, the dance company brought the sold-out crowds to tears and to their feet, while also raising $5,000 of generously donated proceeds for the soup kitchen.

Besides raising funds for homeless and hungry New Yorkers, it is also director Joseph Alexander’s mission that performing artists “raise awareness through the arts about homelessness in New York City.” The performance, choreographed by Edward Morgan, former principal of the original Joffrey Ballet NYC, director of Joffrey II, choreographer of the television show, ClubMTV, and now choreographer of his own ballet company, featured special guest and Broadway legend Lynne Charney. The intergenerational and diverse troupe included also included soup kitchen guest Darrell, whose return to the stage came after our social services manager introduced him to Mr. Alexander who asked him to audition.

In the words of our Interim Executive Director Bishop Andrew R St John, “The convergence of the arts, honoring the earth and raising awareness on behalf of homeless guests [is] a beautiful way to express our commitment to what we call ‘Food for the Soul. We are so impressed by and grateful for their generous and tireless effort.”


Small Bites

Farm to Tray 2017: Small Plates, Big Success!

farm-tray-2017-press-release/Thanks to the generosity of our guests, sponsors, and some of NYC’s top chefs, our 5th Annual Farm to Tray benefit was a record-breaking success, raising over $235,000. Over 300 guests, including seasoned Farm to Tray supporters and many newcomers, gathered together on May 18th to drink, dine, and raise money for the homeless and hungry New Yorkers who rely on the soup kitchen for their daily meal. A menu of delicious small plates, like handmade dumplings and strawberry shortcake, live jazz from the Avenues School Band, a beautiful garden lounge, and an exciting silent auction were all part of the evening’s celebrations. It was also an opportunity to honor some of our most dedicated supporters, Founding Farm to Tray partners Timothy Higdon and Patrick Athy, and Whole Foods Market. For those who weren’t able to attend this year, or for those who want to remember the festivities, you can visit the Farm to Tray photo album on our Facebook page.


Ways to Give, Today and Tomorrowcircle member

As we mark 35 years of serving meals, we are also looking toward the future. By joining our 1982 Giving Circle and including Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen in your estate and retirement plans today, you can help us meet the needs of New York’s hungry and homeless tomorrow. Call (212) 924-0167 or email us.


 

Busy Bees

BekeepersDid you know about the Holy Apostles Bees? This Spring, these hives were delivered to our rooftop and are being managed by a team of volunteer beekeepers. Eventually, the bees will make lots of sweet Holy Apostles honey but they’ve got to get comfortable first. Head beekeeper Katherine Morris and Charles Mohacey are shown here taking care of bee business. Here’s the current “buzz” about their first few months as told by Charles, and stay turned for more Bee news in future issues of VOICES and on our social media pages!

“The queen is producing brood, [bee larva] and the workers have drawn out comb [built the comb] making royal jelly, and honey. They are doing so well that we swapped the boxes (top to bottom and bottom to top). The bees had drawn out the comb in the bottom boxes so we tricked them into drawing out the comb in the other box by swapping them. We have also added sugar water to the hives last week to jump start them into drawing out comb in the newly switched boxes.”


Mark Your Social Calendars – The Future looks Bright!

 

July 30th: The Love Boat

love boatWhether you are in for a new adventure or your mind is on summer romance, climb aboard The Love Boat on Sunday July 30th, and you will be helping to end hunger too. LIFE DANCE is generously hosting its second “signature style” party benefiting Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen. Experience this summer cruise party with breathtaking views of the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and the iconic Manhattan skyline, all to the beats of DJ Fernando, Delas Carnevali and legendary Miami Diva Kitty Meow performing live.

$30 general admission ticket includes catered dinner buffet on board.

 

October 26th: Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen 35th Anniversary Celebration

We hope you can join us to celebrate all those who have helped us serve nourishing weekday meals for 35 years. On the evening of Thursday, October 26th, we’ll be honoring our community of volunteers and supporters and those whose work made the soup kitchen the beacon of hope that it is today. Come see interesting historical documents, testimonials, visit with old soup kitchen friends and enjoy beverages, appetizers and cake.

Tickets only $35.