VOICES Newsletter-Summer 2016

Voice of a Guest…Tal

Tal Brandel

A devoted husband and father, Tal enjoyed a secure office job for twenty two years. Originally from Tel Aviv, he was proud of the stability he had established for his wife and six children, never thinking that one day he would be relying on a soup kitchen for meals, and for a second chance in the workforce.

But when the owner of the small employment agency he worked for closed the business late last year, fifty one year old Tal found himself, ironically, unprepared for a job search himself.

“I had worked so hard. I was loyal,” he recalls sadly, adding that he just always thought he’d be working there until he retired. “I was proud of myself…without a college degree, I still had a steady job.” While raising his family, Tal couldn’t think about investing in his own professional development, especially when his wife, the family’s homemaker, was diagnosed with cancer soon after she turned forty.

“Our office wasn’t really computerized. It was a small business, and I kept to doing everything the old fashioned way, mostly on paper, because I didn’t think I’d have to learn anything new,” he says.
While he worked during the day and cared for his wife at night throughout her sickness and into her remission, their medical bills began piling up. And even though their children were now all grown and living on their own, Tal and his wife still lived paycheck to paycheck to pay their bills, and to pay down their debt.

“I was just starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel when the company closed,” Tal says, tears coming to his eyes. “Then, I had to start all over. At my age!”

Without any income, Tal’s wife moved to Florida to be with their children while Tal moved out of their apartment and continued to look for work in New York. He scraped by with help from friends for shelter and meals. An acquaintance told him about Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, that he could get a meal here during the day, and that there were people here who might be able to help him with his situation.
After eating his first hot meal here last December, Tal met with one of our social services advisors who suggested he stop into our computer lab. There, he was told Tal could learn new computer skills in an encouraging environment, and get help on his resume.

“I’ve been taking the classes ever since, and the teachers helped me with my resume and with my job search,” Tal says. “And guess what! I found a job!”

Using his new computer skills he’s now working in logistics for a delivery service, making a little over minimum wage.

“I’m still going to need to come here for meals for a while,” he says. “But things are looking up. I’m getting back on my feet again.”

Choral Work Debut at Carnegie Hall to benefit the Soup Kitchen

Street Requiem

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 featuring acclaimed mezzo soprano Frederica von Stade. Sing The World, an Australian based organization created by Jonathon Welch, is the producer of the event and will be generously donating 50% of the net tickets sales revenue to Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, and has given us the honor of choosing additional New York homeless organizations to share that donation with. Jonathan Welch is also the founder of School of Hard Knocks, an arts based organization transforming the lives of homeless people through music and street choirs around the world.

Street Requiem LogoCreated by Kathleen McGuire, Andy Payne and Jonathon Welch, STREET REQUIEM  is a contemporary choral work aiming to bring a sense of peace, remembrance and hope to communities struggling to come to terms with street violence and a loss of safety on our streets.  Learn more about the musical influences.

Proceeds will benefit Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen and our partners in homeless outreach:  Picture the Homeless, Midnite Run, Safe Horizon Streetworks, Ali Forney Center and West End Residences HDFC, Inc.

“When Dr. Welch first reached out to us to tell us about this exciting new choral work that raises awareness about homelessness,  we were surprised and  grateful for his generous offer to donate such a large portion of the proceeds  – and honored to be entrusted to choose five other outreach and support organizations to share this generosity with. It truly is a rare, “pay it forward” opportunity for us,” says Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen Interim Executive Director The Right Reverend Andrew R. St. John.

Carnegie Hall has more information on its website, and tickets are available now.

Voice of a Volunteer…Edward

Edward Cohen volunteer(1)Edward, who volunteers three days a week at the soup kitchen, has cared deeply about the well-being of his fellow New Yorkers ever since moving to the city when he was just 18 years old.

“I loved New York immediately when I moved here,” he remembers. After attending City College, Edward worked for the New York State Workers Compensations Board of Appeals. “I got to make sure that peoples’ lives didn’t fall apart… What better job can you ask for?”

When he retired after an impressive thirty year career, Edward found himself with a lot of free time on his hands. A friend of his who worked at the soup kitchen told him about volunteering here and Edward was immediately intrigued with the idea.

“But my first reaction was, ‘I don’t like to make commitments!’” Edward recalls with a hearty laugh.
After his friend assured him that he could volunteer whenever it was most convenient for him, Edward decided to take the leap and give it a try. “Well, the other volunteers were so friendly – I kept coming back!” he says.

Now, thirteen years later, Edward is a volunteer coordinator, welcoming new and regular volunteers, assigning jobs, and helping the soup kitchen run smoothly three days a week. “When the volunteer coordinator position was announced I was ready to make a commitment because I really like this place,” Edward says. “I’ve made friends here. We’ve been in each other’s lives for years. It’s very enriching.”

The community of guests and volunteers has touched Edward’s life in countless ways, including, he recalls, when a guest appreciated a very simple gesture, one that many of us would take for granted.
“One day I greeted one of our guests and I put my hand on his shoulder, saying ‘Good Morning’” he explains.“The guest replied “Thank you!” … and then proceeded to tell me how much it meant to be welcomed.”

The man then told Edward, “When I am on the street I am invisible.”

“That incident was very meaningful to me,” Edward recalls. While Edward finds meaning in his work at the soup kitchen, his kindness has made a difference to thousands of guests and volunteers his work has touched throughout the years.

Bite Sized:                                                                                                                              Fast-a-thon

Coming soon: Keep an eye out on our Facebook and Twitter pages – and in our next newsletter! — for more information about our upcoming annual Fall Fast-A-Thon Fundraiser! We’re aiming to go above and beyond last year’s record-breaking $66,000 that was raised, so it’s not too early to start thinking about how you can make a difference in the lives of hungry New Yorkers during the Thanksgiving season. If you’re “hungry for change” this is a great way to raise awareness and raise much needed funds for our daily meals and social services.

Introducing New Soup Kitchen Leadership Staff! A couple of new faces have arrived at the soup kitchen, namely our new Interim Executive Director, The Right Reverend Andrew R. St. John, and our new Associate Executive Director, John-Harvard Reid. With their combined wealth of leadership experience, our soup kitchen continues to transform the lives of New Yorkers most in need.

Bishop St. John