Today, Ray and I drove in from Ojai to volunteer at the “Breakfast Club,” which is the homeless breakfast that is offered twice a month in the parish hall of St. Thomas the Apostle, Hollywood. We and other volunteers cook a hot breakfast for people in the Hollywood community who are poor and/or homeless. No one has to qualify to eat our breakfast. If they feel the need to be there, then we are happy to feed them.
We had a plethora of volunteers today to help scramble eggs, make bread pudding, open up cans of biscuits, heat up the corned beef hash, make homemade potatoes covered in cheddar cheese and dish up canned peaches. We worked together in concert, many volunteers being “regulars” who know their jobs well and others being either newcomers or occasional helpers who come when they can carve out the time.
One volunteer was new, a young Dutch American woman who is visiting friends in the US right now. She helped me make the bread pudding flavored with pears. She was about 22 and sweet. One of our regular volunteers brought her along since the young woman is visiting in her neighborhood. The young woman wanted to see the church after breakfast and we took her inside. She snapped a few photos to send to her mom to let her know how she’d spent her morning.
Another volunteer was a young man who first started coming to the breakfast club when he was around 10 with his parents. They came for quite a while on a regular basis then life got busy and we haven’t seen them at the breakfast in several years. This boy was one of my writing students from age 10 – 15 and is now a graduate of Brown. He brought his girlfriend along to help and once he got started helping out in the kitchen and then serving breakfast, it felt as if he’d never left. He chatted with our patrons while he added catsup and salsa to their plates and then after the meal was served, he and his girlfriend helped find a blanket and sweater in our used clothes bin for one man who needed them.
I felt heartened seeing these young people doing their part to help out our Breakfast Club folks. These young volunteers came with the clear intention to do whatever they could to be helpful and they all three were kind, focused and ready to do whatever task was handed to them. Some people complain about “the youth today,” and lament these kids are spoiled and self-centered. I would have to contest that assertion since the young people I work with as students or meet through my own children tend to be conscientious and caring. They give me hope for our country’s future because they seem to understand that they need to take positive action to contribute to society.
Many of our Breakfast Club patrons have been coming for years. We see familiar faces who have been battling life on the streets and/or poverty for years at a time. I am glad that we can at least offer them a hot meal two times a month. I wish it were more, but for now, that’s what we’re able to do. Our patrons are so appreciative. We receive many thank you’s over the course of the morning.
This is one of the outreach programs in our church that continues to work after over 25 years. The mandate from Jesus to feed the hungry is something we are proud to accomplish in our own small and humble way. In the process, we are brought many blessings, not the least of which is to make new friends, greet old ones and receive heartfelt thanks from many whose lives are made just a little bit better with something as small as a solid, warm meal.
I hope your weekend is going well. I’ll be checking back in again tomorrow.