by Tina Sipula
Each person who comes to help at Clare House comes to add to our ministry and add to all of our lives here and touches all those we serve. Some of our volunteers have been with us for decades; some have been with us only a few months. And then, occasionally, a rare and gifted student comes along who asks to do an “internship” with us for a major or class. Emily Blankenberger is with us for the summer, and I honestly wish she was moving in and staying for the duration! Emily hails from Chicago Heights and I had the great fortune to meet her mother, Mary Helen, this past Saturday when she came to work with Emily in the basement. When I meet a really special young person, I really want to meet their parents, because I want to know those who helped to mold them and make them the incredible people they are. After briefly meeting Emily’s mother, it was easy to nod and say, “Now she makes more sense.” Please come by and meet Emily, (who rides her bike here on Wed. morning, Wed. afternoon, Wed. evening, and Sat. morning) and you will be wowed by her enthusiasm, creativity, intelligence, compassion, humor, and personalism. (She won’t forget your name!)
Our little garden in the back is flourishing with all the rain and heat. Soon we will pick all the lettuce and hope the radishes, broccoli, and Swiss chard will adorn our plates as well. If you have any extra produce this summer or fall, please share it with our folks in line by just putting it on our porch at any time, and if you have any bags to go with it, that would be great. Our pantry mostly has canned goods and dry goods, so anything fresh from a garden is a real treat! And Emily wants to learn to can this summer, so if you would like to learn also, contact us and we will teach you the long lost art of preserving food.
My oldest sister, Dorothy, passed away this spring at the young age of 67. In her memory, the volunteer crew at the Thursday soup kitchen pitched in and erected a beautiful stone bench in the back yard of Clare House. It has a prayer carved on the top of the bench and each time I walk in or out of the house, I think of my sister and say a little prayer for her and for all those who were so kind to memorialize her in this precious way.
With summer upon us, we knew the numbers at the soup kitchen would increase now that school is out, but the onslaught was a bit overwhelming our first few weeks. We continually ran out of our homemade soups or casseroles and have had to resort to opening cans of soup to keep up with the need. We are averaging around 100 people for lunch now. Even though we do not serve until 11:30, folks fill the dining room by 8:30 in the morning to drink coffee (it is generally depleted by 10:00) and enjoy donuts from Denny’s Donuts, pastries from Panera’s, bread from Great Harvest and enjoy a cool and quiet safe space. Folks play cards, read, and the children have a play box where they can color, play games and have fun. When one comes to “Loaves and Fishes,” or works our food line, it is easy to see why Dorothy Day wrote the following: “We cannot love God unless we love each other and to love we must know each other. We know Christ in the breaking of the bread and we know each other in the breaking of the bread and we are not alone anymore.”