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Saturday, May 3, 2014

Wish List

Wish List

Volunteers needed:  

  1. Someone to work at the soup kitchen on Tuesdays from 8:45 to 1 pm with special help mopping floors.
  2. Someone to mow the lawn once a week - it only takes 20 minutes!
  3. People to hand out food on Fridays from 1 pm to 1:15 pm.

Stamps, celery, onions, chickens, hams, eggs, cheese, lunch meat, ground beef, chuck roasts, soup base, fruit, large cans of soup, tuna, tomatoes, baked beans, chili beans, hot dogs, buns, 1 gallon baggies, 33 gallon trash bags, small heavy paper plates, powdered drink mix, cereal, vegetables, macaroni and cheese, baby food, baby wipes, baby formula, diapers, toilet paper, sanitary pads, paper towels.

·        Money for bills, taxes, and insurance
·        Gift Certificates for grocery stores
·        Coffee, coffee creamer, sugar
·        Please plant an extra row of vegetables for those in our line
·        Tickets to anywhere
·        PRAYERS!


Soup Kitchen Scenes

Debbie Mizer

Sylvia Hayes

House News


     The worst winter of our lives is finally behind us, even though it snowed again in April.  We are still holding our breaths.  One of the most vivid memories of this past winter was when I was driving to the soup kitchen in a snow storm, sliding down Mason Street toward the church.  Walking down the middle of the road were folks headed toward St. Mary’s, wrapped in blankets.  They were slipping and struggling to make it to the warm space where they could be safe out of the storm and I was thinking how many were escaping the storms that rage in their lives.  Dorothy Day used to say that the folks who came to their soup kitchen in New York did not necessarily come just for the soup; they came for the compassion and love they could not find elsewhere.  It is definitely true in our dining room, where incredible volunteers come together each Tuesday and Thursday and offer a welcoming hospitality to each individual that crosses the threshold.  Many have mental challenges.  Some come burdened with small children.  Some come in dirty and smelly from living outside in the “tent city” or from lack of soap or clean clothes.  I take in a deep breath and sigh, “Ah, the sacred smell of poverty,” when I walk into the door, and feel a sense of peace in this place where all are treated with dignity and grace.  Someone once told me that “hunger knows no season,” and it is true.  Our lines have remained long, and our soup pots have been steaming on the stove all winter and will continue into the welcomed spring.
     We had a small going-away luncheon for two of our faithful volunteers, Shae Davidson and Johanna Haas, who had worked at Clare House for over 6 years.  It was a tearful good-bye, as they have been so faithful handing out food each week and working so hard each Wednesday morning, unloading trucks of food and working in the basement.  I originally met them at a talk I was giving at a church in Normal, and they asked if they could come to volunteer.  Shortly before they moved to Southern Illinois, they both nominated me for the “Grabill-Homan Community Peace Prize,” and I was selected for it.  I am honored by their nomination, (a real surprise gift from them), and am humbled by being selected by the committee.  We wish them peace and hope they come back to visit us often!
     Several large food drives have added to our pantry lately and have helped to fill up the bags for our many brothers and sisters.  Many thanks go to Country Companies for their large collection, to Grove Elementary School 4th and 5th graders who have collected nearly 200 bags of food, and to Holy Apostles Church, which does an annual Lenten collection for us each year.  And thanks to those who have remembered the poor during their personal or family Lenten sacrifices.  One family which has been involved with Clare House for over 20 years decided to refrain from going out to eat for the 40 days of Lent and donate that money to those who are hungry.  What a great idea!  To all who have come to help in any way, -  with the case of toilet paper,  the toiletry items collected from motel travels, the frozen chickens for the soup kitchen, the canned goods, cereal, the dried beans and shampoo, we thank you for each and every item.  No gift is too small for each offering is greatly appreciated by all who come to us in need.
     When you are planting your gardens this spring, please put in an extra row or two so we can also pass along fresh food to folks.  To be able of share fresh produce is a wonderful thing for the many people who come to us with compromised health.  Throughout all the summer and autumn months, you can put fresh produce out on our porch any time of day.
     We pray the Easter Season remains in your hearts and homes and that in His rising, we are raised up and renewed each day by the Spirit that is within us.  

- Tina Sipula


Volunteers, Warmth, and Love

Volunteers, Warmth, and Love
By Sara Whitworth

             I started volunteering at the Clare House in 2011 as a way to give back to the community.  I knew I would feel good about the work I was doing but didn’t expect to get so much in return.  In my time volunteering here I have learned that I need the Clare House just as much as they need me.  The Clare House is more than just a food pantry and donation center, it is a house with a family of volunteers, warmth, and love.



                A huge Thank You to Schnuck’s Supermarket for making food bags for the Clare House all year.  Some people have written on their purchased bags, “#MCStrong” in honor of Michael Collins, who passed away in a car accident.

Kara, Jack & Jenna bring food & Easter eggs to "play it forward" in honor of Michael Collins. The eggs say, "MC Strong."


By Andrew Young

Why do I kneel before your empty tomb?
You are not here, for you are everywhere;
The grass, the trees, the air, the wind, the sky,
Nothing can now refuse to be your home;
Nor I.  Lord, live in me and I shall live.

Quotes From Pope Francis

Quotes From
Pope Francis
(from “America” magazine)
September 30, 2013
           “We must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting mediocrity.”

“We should not even think, therefore, that ‘thinking with the church’ means only thinking with the hierarchy of the church.”

“The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules.”

“The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials.”

“The proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives.”

We are all WORTHY

Community Peace Prize Awarded to Tina Sipula

Community Peace Prize
By Nancy L. Cruse

           On Monday, April 28, 2014, Tina Sipula will be awarded the Grabill-Homan Peace Prize at a reception at Illinois State University in the Alumni Center Room.

The Grabill-Homan Community Peace Prize recognizes individual achievements in peacemaking, leadership, community service, and activisim.  Eligible individuals must be residents of Bloomington or of Normal and be at least 21 years of age.  They must have a record of participation in peacemaking activities in the community.  Examples of such activities include activities in the areas of civil rights, cross-cultural understanding, economic and social justice, environmental protection as well as activities that help advance peace and human dignity.  Nominees should have a record of peaceful conflict resolution, leadership, integrity, and compassion and demonstrate respect for all individuals.

Thank you for being such a blessing and an inspiration to our community, Tina!


 By Sr. Glenda Bourgeois, O.S.U.
           One of the by-products of the social media is the development of on-line jargon sometimes referred to as net lingo and text talk. Chat acronyms are common to many faithful texters. I recognize only a few “space savers” ( LOL, OMG, DIY, DIT, BTW and cul8r) because I am, at best, a primitive texter!

Following this line of thinking though, I came across a phrase the other day that  summed up  Clare House ministry for me. In acronym form It is PHP! The message might jump out at you. You will not find PHP in a text dictionary now, but hopefully someday you will!

You have figured it out! Clare House ministry is all about PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE. The thirty seven year history of this incredible out- reach in our community in its simplest form is the story of PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE.  Those of us who are blessed to be volunteers in any aspect of the daily operations are inspired by the wonderfully compassionate evidence of this.
PHP is a sign that we are one big human family, that we belong to each other, that our happiness is tied to the well-being of others. PHP is a great peace making activity, an expression of divine love in our world.

Clare House is one of many places where PHP is what it is all about! Let’s cheer on each instance of PHP that happens right in front of us.

Carrying the Cross Together

...And the Lord will provide

“…And the Lord will provide”
     By Sharon Peterson
I am a Wednesday morning volunteer, one of those who works at Clare House downstairs, sorting, dating, and shelving donations in preparation for the evening crew who bag the groceries for the handouts to our clients twice a week.
     This past winter, (which was so long and difficult for everyone,) saw a generous outpouring of not only foodstuffs, but also, blankets, homemade quilts, hats, gloves and scarves for both children and adults.  Sometimes we would get numerous bags of these warm items at one time and sometimes we would just get one or two; it didn’t matter, because it all helped.  Donations
came in from our Annual Holiday Food Drive and also from caring individuals, church groups, businesses, and school children with the help of their parents and teachers.  Just when we would be wondering how we would fill the shelves for tonight’s baggers, more food would come in from an unexpected source!
     Another “provision” came our way recently when a long-time and most loyal volunteer, Shae Davidson, moved out of the area.  The week after this happened, the Lord provided us with a most and wonderful new volunteer, Phyllis Urban.  Now we are once more back to full force downstairs, though we miss Shae very much!
     It has happened time and time again;  on a day we are short of help handing out groceries, someone will miraculously show up because they had some free time that day, or had just heard of Clare House and wanted to find out more about it.  So, I am now firmly convinced of “divine help.”  Sometimes when you least expect it, help arrives, but almost always it comes when you desperately need it.  Don’t ever think that your efforts at donating things or volunteering yourself and your time are too small to make a difference, because they do and they will!

Making Biscuits

Bernie Greene making biscuits at the soup kitchen.

Giving and Receiving

Giving and Receiving
by Bill Tolone

"One gives freely, yet grows all the richer...
Whoever brings blessings will be enriched"
(Proverbs 11:24-25)

"Giving and Receiving."  It seems as though we at Clare House "give" to the poor and the poor "receive" from us.  But, it's just the opposite.  It's no coincidence that we as Clare House volunteers meet every week with our sisters and brothers who line up for food.  Whether we call these meetings something that is pre-ordained by God, or a God-moment, the fact is that we are brought together.  Now, it's up to us to work something out.
Giving and receiving of food is pretty routine.  Some people are inside Clare House ready to give food and others outside in line are eager to receive food.  However, become part of the conversations between people in the food line and you realize that there's something much greater going on.  They share their experiences, and their food, and sometimes their books for the Little Free Library with each other.  In other words, our sisters and brothers in the food line are providing an excellent example of what Dorothy Day, and Tina Sipula, have in mind and practice about ministering to the poor. 
The poor are the first to minister to each other.  We need to "receive" from them and do our part.

Friends of Clare House

Friends of Clare House

By Bob Sampson

If you visit Clare House during the daylight hours, you might encounter some aggressive neighbors. These folks have been known to run right up to people, stand erect and silently—but insistently—demand to be fed. And, oh yes, they have four legs and bushy tails. They are squirrels.

What began several years ago as a way to dispose of excess blueberry pancakes on a Saturday or Sunday morning has evolved into multi-generation relationship with a colony of squirrels who inhabit the trees and, sometimes, attics of buildings around Clare House. It has become a relaxing way to pass a few moments by handing out peanuts and other treats to our “friends.”

And others have joined in. Take Charley. Charley was a friend of Randy, who lived in an apartment in a house on the corner. Charley and Randy would spend hours each day in good weather sitting just off Randy’s stoop, watching the cars go by, discussing the neighborhood and the world, and feeding squirrels. When Randy died a couple of years ago, Charley lost not only a friend but a place to go, a place to be welcomed.  Over time, he started stopping by Clare House, leaving ears of corn for the squirrels and if someone was outside, stopping to sit and talk on the tailgate of the pickup truck.

People need to eat but they also need other things—friendship, a place to sit a bit and chat, a welcome. So do squirrels. Both type of God’s creatures find friends at Clare House.