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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"Pour Yourself Out for the Hungry" - by Bill Tolone

"If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday" (Isaiah 58:10)

For those of us who volunteer at Clare House, this passage from Isaiah has lots of meaning. When people stand in line for food and baby items, we know they are hungry and have great needs for their children and other family members. They are truly "afflicted." And, we think that we are providing an important service for them by handing out groceries, baby food and diapers twice a week or cooking lunch for them at St. Mary's twice a week. But, in reality, they are the ones who provide a valuable service to us.

They are a constant reminder that we have a moral obligation to each other, especially to those in need, to help them survive from day to day. For the poor, each day can be consumed with figuring out just where their next meal is coming from, or where they will find shelter tonight, or if they have enough clothing, or if there's any chance to finally get a job in order to support themselves. Many of us take these things for granted. For the poor, very little can be taken for granted.

In thinking about this, we realize that, as Clare House volunteers, we are not just the ones who help the poor in our community "sustain and rebuild" their lives, they are the ones who, as importantly, sustain and rebuild our lives. They are the shining lights in our darkness and those who make our gloom seem as the noonday.

Being a Clare House volunteer is a wonderful privilege. It grounds us in remembering just who we are and should be in God's plans for the world. The rest is up to us.

Clare House Gets a New Step

Thank you to Andrew Harper for volunteering to lay a new step in front of Clare House. Above: Ryan Windel
Below: Ryan Windel and Koby Windel

Monday, August 15, 2011

Serving at Clare House - by Edward Ramos, Jr.

For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in, I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to visit Me.' . . ."The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.'
Matthew 25:35, 36 and 40 (NIV)

According to the verses above, when we help someone, we are indeed serving Jesus. Many times we can focus on our lives and forget about ministering to others; taking our eyes off ourselves and looking to the stranger, tending to their needs.

For the last thirty-three years, Clare House has coordinated the ministry of serving people in need of the Twin Cities area. Located on Washington Street, it serves as a beacon of hope in our city, giving bags of groceries and baby items (baby food, diapers, etc.) to those in need. Over all these years, various churches, groups and individuals volunteer their time, efforts, resources and supplies to help out with the mission of Clare House.

For me, it has been a rewarding experience volunteering and knowing that what I do here helps others. The first time I stopped by at Clare House, it was to deliver some groceries on behalf of my church. While there, I met a couple of ISU faculty members I knew that volunteered there. After taking a brief tour and talking with Tina, I was hooked. For the last four years I’ve returned every Wednesday evening to sort, pack, and bag groceries for distribution, as well as re-stock shelves of food. Working at mid-week, we also lay the groundwork for the next group of volunteers that visits on Saturdays. Then they perform the same tasks on Saturday, laying the groundwork for our duties when we return on the following Wednesday.

Through the years we’ve developed friendships with each other, adding others along the way. While we work, there is always joking, laughing and the usual chaos when we have so many things to do in two hours or less. But we finish all the tasks, relishing a job well done, even when some of our co-workers may be sick or away on vacation. After we’re done, we will just hang out with Tina and talk of the day’s events or discuss how many cans of protein we still need to re-stock the shelves downstairs. Soon our time is over, and we say our farewells to each other and make way to our respective homes. As we all leave, it is a good feeling, knowing that in a small way, we are helping others and serving Christ in the end.

McLean County CROP Hunger Walk

Best of all, when you register say you are walking for CLARE HOUSE
and we will receive a potion of the funds raised!

The Earth is Blessing Us - by Sister Glenda Bourgeois, O.S.U.

The words of the psalmist capture the sentiments of our hearts at this time of year. “The earth is yielding its harvest and we are lavished with blessing.” By labor the earth provides generously for all. The psalmist names the beneficiaries. There is “grass for the cattle, plants for the beasts of burden, bread and wine to gladden the heart, oil to make our faces gleam and food to build our strength.”

We are grateful for each farmer who tills the soil and nurtures the planted seed and harvests the nourishing produce. At Clare House we are especially grateful that many farmers in our area share part of their harvest with us. Bloomington and Normal each feature a Farmers’ Market. Also here at Clare House during the months of harvest, the poor are invited to come and fill the bags that are provided with produce found on the front porch of 703. What a blessed sight to see the boxes on the porch filled with corn and zucchini, yellow squash, peppers of every variety, beans, eggplants and cucumbers. The regular grocery distribution is enhanced by the blessings of harvest.

Thank you, Earth! Thank you generous, hard working farmers! Thank you from all of your brothers and sisters who are nourished by these gifts!

Clare House News - by Tina Sipula

Someone once asked me what is the hardest part of being here at Clare House, and the answer is simple: it is when people come into your life for years and then they are suddenly gone. Jennie Wulburn and her two wonderful children, Kendall and Jared, are moving to Virginia with her husband, Jeff. For many years, Jennie helped hand out food on Fridays and assisted at the soup kitchen on Thursday mornings. When the children were not at school, they were at her side, giving away diapers, setting up trays, drying dishes. The kids really “got it” in the beginning and gave away many of their toys and books to kids in the line. Blessings and happiness to the Wulburns, and please come back to visit soon!

The welcoming of old friends is marked with a countering joy, and this week we welcome back Moira Sennett from Milwaukee. Moira has been coming for many summers for a week or two so Bob and I can get away for a little break. It is with great confidence and relief that I hand over the keys to our dear and competent friend! Thank you, Moira for being such a dedicated and good friend!

With a heat index of over 100 degrees for over a week now, the wee garden in the back yard is still green and flourishing with morning watering and regular weeding. The tomatoes and eggplant are now wrapped in netting so only two-legged creatures can enjoy the harvest, rather than the gluttonous squirrels! Today, most of the basil will be transformed into a pungent pesto and frozen for winter enjoyment. If you have any extra produce this summer or fall, please put it on our front porch so we can share it with others.

Andrew Harper, of “Harper Masonry,” (309-275-3880,) and his two assistants, Ryan and Koby Windel, donated their time and labor to replace our deteriorating front step. Kudos to Andrew and his crew for making the steps safe and beautiful!

If you asked my husband what the hardest part of being at Clare House is, he would say, “Just being at Clare House!” There is little relaxation here for us with the constant barrage of phone calls and people at the door, people in and out of the house, the organization of the volunteers, buying and ordering food, the maintenance of the house and the property. Soon the food drive and holidays will be upon us. Please look into your heart and see if there is any way you could help during November or December. If you could help with the food drive, please call Mike at: 829-1518. If you could take phone calls for a week or longer, please let us know. We will need at least two more volunteers to come and help write thank you notes from November through January.

Thank you to all who continue to support Clare House, Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen and all who come to us in need. Thank you to all who “love your neighbor as yourself.”