To see the full article, go to: http://www.pressconnects.com/story/news/connections/faith/2015/05/21/soup-kitchen-fulfills-call/27707733/
“It’s part of the gospel,” Seamus McMahon said. “Christ is present in every person that we serve.”
The McMahons are part of a small army of volunteers who put on the free dinner once a week in the former St. Ambrose School in Endicott. This month marks the 15th anniversary of the founding of the soup kitchen, said Rose Blaine, who started it under former pastor Rev. Peter Creed. She still dons an apron, grabs a serving spoon and greets every volunteer and diner with a smile when she coordinates the dinner every week.
“They’re our neighbors,” Blaine said of the 80 to 100 people who eat there each week. “This is a way that we are able to help our neighbors.”
Many of those who eat at the soup kitchen are struggling to make ends meet. Some are the so-called working poor who work long hours but don’t get paid enough to survive financially. Other people don’t have money problems but are elderly and may not have family or friends to share a meal with, Blaine said.
“Some people are very lonely,” she said. “They say they don’t have anyone to eat with. They just want to visit.”
No matter what their circumstances are, diners can get a warm welcome and a hot meal when they come. Most of the food is donated from Broome Bounty, a program run under the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse in which food is collected from local restaurants and donated to soup kitchens and community meal programs. Some local restaurants also donate food, including Nirchi’s Pizza, Pizzeria Uno, Texas Roadhouse and Best Bagels in Town.
Five teams of five to 15 volunteers take turns cooking, serving and cleaning up after the dinner. The McMahons serve on the third Wednesday of the month. They often bring their youngest daughter, 5-year-old Abigail, who helps by handing out pats of butter, slices of pizza or pieces of cake.
“I want her to learn to help others, ” Linda McMahon said.
The McMahons are parishioners at St. Ambrose Church and see the soup kitchen as a way to live out their Catholic faith, they said.
“We are here on earth to love,” Sean McMahon said. “Love is an outgoing thing.”
His wife noted that Pope Francis is a strong supporter of helping those in need.
“He’s been calling us to minister to the poor and needy,” Linda McMahon said of the pope. “I am trying to fulfill that call.”
For now, Blaine has no plans to retire from her volunteer position heading up the dinners.
“We benefit just as much as the people who come in,” she said. “It’s a small gift I can give back to God for all the blessings he’s given me over the years.”
HOW TO HELP
The St. Ambrose Soup Kitchen is held at 5:30 p.m. every Wednesday in the former St. Ambrose School cafeteria on Garfield Avenue in Endicott.
Volunteers are welcome. To volunteer, call the parish office at (607) 754-2330.