Special Appeal

As you have no doubt noticed, gas and food prices are up. At the same time, the number of people who need to find a meal on the street is also up. At the same time, our funds are totally depleted. These things are all related..

The pantry is almost bare. We have meat for the soup for four more weeks. We are out of everything else except a few cans of potatoes and corn and three pounds of rice. There is no money for gas, iced tea mix, the xB payment, green vegetables, etc.

We have only made it this long, because “Come and See” Icons, Books & Art has been lending The King’s Jubilee money to cover shortfalls out of its operating expense money. Now that has gotten down to nothing and is impacting service to customers, as inventory is too low.
This newsletter is being printed in grayscale because part of a label sheet damaged the magenta drum in the laser printer and we don’t have the money to fix it.

Whatever you can do now will be greatly appreciated.

Memory Eternal

Last Thursday, I received word that Rosalie died a couple of months ago. Two years ago, I asked readers of this newsletter to pray for Rosie as she was battling leukemia.

I first met Rosie in 1985 when she was an inmate in the Women’s Detention Facility at the Philadelphia House of Corrections. We were both just exiting our twenties. She was a wild thing with a head of thick, curly, frizzy, red hair. I had a lot more brown than white in my beard and hair, wore no moustache and had aviator wireframe glasses. (They were the closest thing I could find to round at the time.)

Rosie told me her sad story of abuse and love. This was the first time I had heard this sort of tale, which by now has became all too familiar, of a woman who is physically abused by her mate, yet loves him still, to the point of endangering their children. Rosie was vivacious, persuasive, irrepressibly happy and a tease.

I saw her on and off through my four years as a chaplain in the Philadelphia prisons. She was one of our first students in the tutoring program I started in the WDF. She always was telling the tutors and the guards what a great guy I was, followed by some kind of left-handed compliment.

It was sometime in 1990, about the time we were turning 35, while I was serving sandwiches, iced tea and goodies at the wall of the “Love Park”, I heard this woman holler: “Hey Rev! How ya been?” Rosie ran up to me and gave me a big hug.
Since then, we have seen Rosie from time to time. Sometimes she was a regular customer. Other times, she would just stop by to say hello and catch up on the news.

We met her brother, Pete. Rosie had a couple of different boyfriends that she introduced to us. Then she got serious about Jerome several years ago. Pete befriended an older man whom he would look out for and help out. We only ever knew him as Pops. Pops got housing assistance. So Pete and Rosie and Jerome moved in with him. It was a way of surviving off the street by pooling their resources. Some nights we would take them all home after we were done serving.

Rosalie and Jerome got married several years ago by Judge Valentine on Valentine’s Day at City Hall. They all got evicted from the house. Rosie and Jerome ended up getting violent with each other. Jerome was arrested. There was a restraining order. Jerome says it was a horse apiece, that Rosie gave as good as she got, and I can believe it. She was feisty. They divorced.

For a time Rosie lived in New Jersey with relatives, but she still came over about once a month to see us and let us know she was all right. Her relatives moved and she was back on the street.

In 2005, about the time we were turning 50, Rosalie was diagnosed with leukemia. She went through one round of chemo. It seemed she was doing better, then not so much. She went through another round in the Spring of 2006. This is while living on the street. Her brother and Pops and a few other guys were looking out for her and trying to provide protection and moral support. Finally some health worker was able to figure out a way for her to get a room in a group home, as she was about to start her third round of chemo.

Pops passed away last year. Pete got a good job and a place of his own. Jerome spent most of the last year in jail. He just got out. Rosalie passed away sometime around our 53rd birthdays.

Rosie was a joy to know. I consider it a privilege and blessing to have been counted among her friends. May her memory be eternal.

Just What the World Needs: another blog

That’s right I started another blog at www.shoutforjoy.us. This is not officially connected with The King’s Jubilee, as I don’t want to be hampered by the restrictions on free speech that are placed on religious, non-profit orgs. It is my personal blog for profit (hopefully), supported by ads and donations. If you like what you see, you can help pay for it.

For many years now, people have telling me I should write a book. For many years now, I have been threatening to take them up on it. Well the blog is what I am using to write not just one book, but four books that have been percolating in my careenium for some time now. It will also contain a few extraneous comments and an occasional entry from another blog.

The four books are:
Other People’s Children – The article about Rosalie above is an example of what this is about.
Why be Green and How – a Christian perspective on environmental stewardship with practical tips and recipes.
“If You Can Read …” – you can do almost anything: the confessions of a Renaissance man. This is a memoir of my forays into things I knew little about when I started and precious little more when I finished.
How to Throw a Wedding Without Breaking the Bank – This includes practical tips on courtship and marriage and how to have a memorable, meaningful celebration without going into debt to do it.

The blog website is also where you will find downloadable pictures of the parishioners and friends of St. Philip’s. To get into that section, you have to register and be approved. I will not give approval if you don’t have business being there.

So check it out. You can register and leave comments or make suggestions. Sooner or later, I hope to have these edited and published. I am already in conversation with a publisher for one of them.

Last Night on the Street

Today, as I am writing this, it is Dormition, so last night the McGraws did not come to serve, since Holy Ascension’s only service was last night. Normally they make spaghetti with meat sauce and bring sandwiches and peanuts.

Yesterday, I roasted a turkey, then made turkey rice soup with green beans, carrots and corn. Then I made a huge roaster pan full of tuna noodle casserole with a “secret” ingredient to add some zing.

Erica Myers had not been down with us for months. She called and wanted to come. What great timing! We were going to be shorthanded and I had no one to ride shotgun, because of the vespers service, so she was most welcome. We had a huge jar of peanut butter left over from Real Break. I asked if she wanted to come over early to help make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I bought four loaves of Holsum whole wheat and a jar of strawbery jam and jar of grape jelly and picked her up about 4pm. She and Hilary made sandwiches.

I set up the xB with supplies, cleaned out the coolers, found packing material to insulate the tuna noodle, made five gallons of iced tea and baked a loaf of bread.

The bread was to go with our dinner which was a wonderful, vegetable, bulgur wheat, crock pot concoction that had been slow cooking since Bethann made it before going to work in the morning.

Erica and I headed over to St. Philip’s at about 6:30. I was able to place the Easter lily blooms, that I had cut from beside our house, in front of the icon of the Theotokos, help sing for Joël Black’s churching, and get Father Boniface’ blessing. Several loaves of sandwiches were delivered right before we were to leave. We left for the city as the church bell chimed seven.

We arrived at 1801 Vine St. at 7:55. A few of the guys helped us unload and we set up on the benches to serve the food. I was serving the soup and the casserole. Erica was handing out sandwiches. Guys from the street were handling the iced tea and the goodies from Landis’ Supermarket bakery. (I had picked them up the day before from Joanne Wiszneski’s car in the Telford Landis’ parking lot.)

At some point Michael and Chris Jones showed up and took over serving the iced tea and goodies. Larry Bonczar showed up and helped maintain order.

We ran out of sandwiches, and just as I was telling one of the guys sorry, Jackie Griffin and her daughter and daughter’s boyfriend show up with sandwiches. We ran out again, but everyone who was there had gotten some. Then some stragglers show up as I was putting something into the car and I find the loaf of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that the guys had missed earlier, when they helped unload. I tell you, it was perfect!

We hung around and talked for a little while. Then we packed up and left. It had started to rain again, pretty hard this time. It was about ten minutes of nine. Erica and I stopped to see Sammy at the Sunoco on Kelly Drive, got half a tank of gas and some iced tea. I dropped Erica off at her place in Harleysville, then headed home. I got home about ten o’clock.

Almost every week it is a similar story. We never know how many people are going to show up, or how many sandwiches will be made, but it seems that it is always right.

Some of you may be salivating to know what the secret ingredient was in the tuna noodle casserole. It was mango lime vinaigrette. I know it was good, because I came home with some hot sauce.

It is amazing to see God provide what is appropriate each week, right on time. That is why it is more than a little embarrassing for me to be making this special appeal. I am confident that God is already making a way for us out of this financial bind. I also know that He calls us to be his co-workers. If you don’t know or understand the need, how can you respond?

Now you know some of what we do. Now you can participate with us in the service in Jesus’ Name.

“Vigils fasts and acts of mercy …”

Vigils and fasts and acts of mercy are the methods advocated by the saints to attain the spiritual life. .. But they must not stand alone, nor must the Christian put his trust in them. Humility must have faith for its principle, and fasting be combined with charity, that is, feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, clothe the naked.
– St. Basil the Great