Feeding Memphis

A long line of bundled up men and women stand behind the tall gates of St. Mary’s Catholic Church soup kitchen waiting to be served a meal. St. Mary’s Catholic Church serves food six days a week to anyone who is hungry. The volunteers and workers at St. Mary’s find joy in providing a meal for those in need. One woman explained to me how she found St. Mary’s for her son to volunteer as part of his confirmation, but then she decided to continue serving after her discovery. A warm cup of soup and a smiling face is enough is to give a hungry man hope. Many people come to St. Mary’s for their only meal that day. As they sit at the picnic tables staring at the familiar faces of volunteers and workers, they listen to uplifting Christian music and are given encouraging Bible verses and notes with their food. “I am blessed to be able to get to do the work I do every day.” Martin said. Martin is on staff at St. Mary’s Soup Kitchen and also attends St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

I was privileged enough to be given the task of serving the 9:00 a.m. meal to a little more than 200 people.  Many of the men and women waited in line with smiles on their faces. Anticipating the sandwich and chips they would receive, they stepped up to the stool I was sitting on.  People greeted me with a hello and several thank you’s before walking away. Ron Bezon, the manager at the kitchen, stood outside greeting regular faces and sharing conversation.

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I was privileged enough to be given the task of serving the 9:00 a.m. meal to a little more than 200 people.  Many of the men and women waited in line with smiles on their faces. Anticipating the sandwich and chips they would receive, they stepped up to the stool I was sitting on.  People greeted me with a hello and several thank you’s before walking away. Ron Bezon, the manager at the kitchen, stood outside greeting regular faces and sharing conversation.

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The food and drinks handed out from St. Mary’s are bought with money from generous organizations and members of the church. The church has been operating the soup kitchen since 1870, approximately 143 years. The kitchen averages more than 300 servings a day and reached a total of 91,000 in 2012. More than 50 volunteers from the tri-state area serve the ministry. Additional volunteers are welcome and needed Monday through Friday from 7:15 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. It is a blessing to be able to provide such a simple necessity to those in need. As one man reached up to grab a cup of soup I noticed his battered hands trembling in the cold. I was sad to see he was missing fingers and struggled to grip the cup, but it gave me joy to know he was smiling because he was being handed a warm cup of soup.

St. Mary’s serves three times each day. At 6:30 a.m., they open the doors with a prayer, praise songs and warm air from a heater blowing into the outdoor picnic area. The first meal of the day includes either hot oatmeal, peaches, a salad, or yogurt and ice water. At 7:30 a.m. Starbucks coffee and a pastry are provided. The largest meal of the day at 9:00 a.m. includes a meat sandwich, a peanut butter sandwich, a 16 oz. cup of soup, and either fruit, candy or chips. If you would like to volunteer or donate to St. Mary’s soup kitchen,  visit http://www.stmaryssoupkitchen.org or email ronbezon@yahoo.com.  St. Mary’s is located in downtown Memphis on 155 Market Street.

Thank you for reading! I’m searching for a job that allows me to provide public relations for a faith based non-profit or Christian organization using my strengths in relationship development, social media, and writing.  If you know of a great fit, please send it our way: jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com or sjarnagi@mc.edu.

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