by Tina Sipula
Part of the reason I stay at this ministry for over 33 years is that nearly every day there is a moment that takes my breath away and I am in tears in wonder and surprise. Today it came when Elmer popped the side door open and in his weak 73 year old breath, hollered, “Tina, got the picture yet?” Last week, at the soup kitchen, I asked Elmer if I could take his photo for the newsletter, and promised him I would get him a copy. “No one ever took my picture before,” was his reply. I totally forgot about it until he appeared in his childlike state while I was cooking butternut squash soup this morning. I slung my kitchen towel over my shoulder, slid two copies of his photo in a baggie and hurried to the door. “Here you go, Elmer.” His face lit up as he grabbed them from me and stuffed them into his pocket. “My first picture,” he whispered, and my knees gave and tears came to my eyes. Sometimes I just have to sit down and take it all in.
For the next two months, I’ll have to sit when I can, as the food drive will be in full swing by the time you read this. Our goal is to try to raise 8 semi-truck loads of food before Thanksgiving, and pray that will be enough to keep our doors open for the coming year. The unemployment rate has never been so high for so long since the Great Depression, and based on the number of people in our line and at the soup kitchen, things are not getting any better. Today we handed out around 100 bags of food, and sometimes at the soup kitchen, we serve over 100 for lunch. The food drive is a sponsored by Dan O’Brien, from Extreme Motors, Radio Bloomington and both Schnuck’s Supermarkets. It takes over 200 volunteers to help gather the food, sort it and box it for the coming year (see Mike Marvin’s article), and we need lots of help. If you can give even an hour a week for the month of November, please call Mike at: 829-1518.
Many thanks to all who donated garden produce this summer, and especially to Jacob’s Well Church and our dear, Verneal Frank, who worked in their community garden and brought us their bounty each week. I was able to can tomatoes, pears, peaches, pickles and peppers this year.
Our soup kitchen celebrated its 10th anniversary at St. Mary’s Church this past October. (“Loaves and Fishes” was at Holy Trinity Parish Center from 1983-2001.) We gathered at Reality Bites restaurant for food and drinks and trivia fun remembering our decade of serving together. Several of our volunteers have chosen to retire after their 10 years at “Loaves and Fishes,” mostly due to health reasons. We are particularly in need of help on Tuesdays from 8:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m., so if you would like to join us in the fun, please call Clare House at 828-4035.
As we approach Thanksgiving, we have much to be grateful for here at Clare House and at Loaves and Fishes. Mostly, we thank you for your gift of love and support so we are able to continue to serve our many brothers and sisters who come to us each day.
“Love is a matter of the will…If you will to love someone (even the most repulsive and wicked), and try to serve him as an expression of that love – then you will soon come to feel love. And God will hear your prayers.” Dorothy Day