Week In Review

Week # 224

May 14, 2018

This week was super exciting for SLP! Monday, May 7th, we started the day off with 154 lunches at the end of the day. Between the Dan Murnane's fluffy pancake meal with bacon for 54 and the bagged lunches from Leslie Flynn and Tracy Phillips, we were off to a great start! Every week, these three beautiful humans give us their time, their love and positive energy. Using their talents and connections to help our friends in need. Thank you so much for everything you do. SLP LOVES YOU! Tuesday was Ladies Night at Prevention Point where we provided Shepherds Pie and Tracy Phillips made an awesome peach cobbler and stayed to serve. Tracy is an incredible baker with an artistic eye and heart of gold. We are so fortunate to have her on our team! We made a meal for 60-70 friends and combined with our lunches that afternoon, we served around 110 meals! Thank you to Courtley McKenna for helping out with lunches that day. She is an inspiration and solid friend to us all. Hearing from where she's come from to where she is now, is nothing short of amazing. Thank you for sharing yourself with us, Courtley! Wednesday, we switched it up a little bit. We assembled 110 hygiene bags then Courtley and Margaux handed them out at Kensington and Somerset. While they did that, I served lunches on Allegheny and Kensington. We were able to share 70 lunches and water with our friends! It was empowering to know we had the whole team out there. We were uplifting our friends in so many ways that day. A super successful day for us! Thursday we shared 60 lunches with our friends and joined One Step Away as they honored individuals and their fight against homelessness. It was great to be in a room with like minded people who shared the same goals as you. The speakers shared some words of wisdom and shared some great stories. It was a great experience and a wonderful Fundraiser. Thank you for inviting us and acknowledgeing out very own Margaux Murphy. See our Events/Press page for pictures and more!  Friday was a super productive as well, thanks to the combined efforts of Margaux and Meredith Cleary for preparing for the weekend as Margaux was taking some deserved time off. After sharing another 60 meals with our friends, we were up to 300 meals between Tuesday through Friday! Monday's was accounted for in last weeks total. I just wanted to brag about our volunteers some more. All out of love and admiration, of course. The weekend's service was super successful even in Margaux's abscence. We were able to help 50 friends in our Greater Goods store and served 54 meals that night! Monday morning's brunch was relatively smooth brunch with minimal bumps as we pumped out 45 more meals. Tracy and Leslie made 50 more lunches each for Kensington. Bringing us to a total of 499 meals for the week! We couldn't have done it without all the wonderful people that support and uplift SLP and our friends in need everyday. See our GET INVOLVED page for ways to help out. We look forward to see you!

THANK YOU TO BARBRA MISHKIN FOR THE INSPIRATION CARDS! Our guests treasure this words of wisdom so, thank you!

   

WEEK #223

May 07, 2018

This Week in Kensington: This week was full of lovely interactions with our friends. It's easy to say that about every week. This one was especially beautiful. We helped a couple of friends potentially prepare for detox. Reminded others how much they are loved and thought about. We had a couple of close calls with a few friends but luckily, thanks to NARCAN and some fast thinking, those tragedies were avoided. 
   Some more wonderful news was also shared this week. Due to the encampment closures, our friends over at Prevention Point and Catholic Worker Free Clinic are expanding their hours and services. Prevention Point will be open 7 days a week from 7 am to 6 pm. Prevention Point will also be running a Wound Care van on the corner of Kensington & Lehigh on Tuesdays from 2pm-4pm. Some of our friends have been benefitting majorly from this wonderful resources. All in all, we were able to distribute 457 meals and 18 cases of water! Thank you to all of our friends and family that come together every week to help make this happen! 


This week in Rittenhouse: Since introducing the clothing to our grocery store, service has be going really smooth. We used to offer it during our Dinner Service on Sunday but felt that it took away the focus on the meal and the company. Guests would feel rushed in order to make it to the clothing rack before they headed out. You could feel the anxiety and tension in the air most nights. Once we elimanated that options, things have since settled down. The Greater Goods set up provides us with more space for more options. Its always a wonderful way to set the tone for the weekends service! 
 

 Last week, Meredith Cleary had the night off as we welcomed our guest cooks for the evening! The Babu family had reserved May 6th for our kitchen to prepare and serve a meal to commemorate Sudha Babu's late mother. They were a beautiful family of 5 who knew their way around the kitchen. They drove in from Doylestown and donated the meal for that evening! They ran like a well oiled machine! We look forward to having them back next year to commemorate their mother/grandma and if we're lucky, sooner than that! 

THE FOLLOWING PHOTOS WERE TAKEN BY OUR WONDERFUL JOE DeMAIO!







Week # 222

Apr 30, 2018

THIS WEEK IN KENSINGTON: As the weather gets warmer, you can feel the neighborhood begin to shift. Especially with the encampment clean ups (Encampment Resolution -Inquirier) at the end of the month, the area is being heavily patroled. Last week, the community lost 5 more beautiful people. It never gets easier to hear about a passing, it stings a little more to see your friends in pain. The more time we spend in Kensington, the more friends we leave with. Although the friendship isn't entirely conventional, we wouldn't trade for anything in the world. When the occasion arises, small talk can be a beautiful part of visiting Kensington. While speaking to a friend, K, she mentioned "fell out" last Saturday. K said that someone went through her stuff and stole her debit card. Someone had to give her 4 doses of Narcan until she started to come to. She knew she could have lost her life on that day. You could tell it was something she was thinking about since it happened. I tend to take the listener's approach when it comes to her. She seems to appreciate that most. I hope she knows that there is a team of people that love and support her. That we wish her nothing but the best and are here when she's ready to make a change. 
    Although it isn't often that our friends let their guards down and open up. A wonderful friend A, has mentioned this past weekl that he was ready to get some help. He knows that he has so much to live for and so much to accomplishment. He wants so much more for himself and so do we! We've exchanged numbers and have been in contact with him about taking the next step. Although there are still some obstacles to tackle, we are definitely one step closer to helping A get his life back. I can see it now. 
    As the months get warmer, we are reaching out for our friends to consider donating water/single serve pedialyte (drink or popsicles) in addition or in lieu of lunches. 

This Week on our Meal Site: This week was the last week before the new changes are being implented. The word about our grocery store is definitely spreading! We were able to assist 61 guests with groceries on Sunday Morning including sandwiches! Thanks to our wonderful friends! 



We couldn't do what we do without you! This past Sunday Night's dinner service was made was only possibly because of our awesome volunteers! We didn't have the awesome prescence of Margaux Murphy, she took a much deserved night off. The pressure was on and we were well prepared. We worked together to make sure that every guest left with a full stomach and a full heart. As our guests enjoyed the chocolate mousse cake we were serving for dessert, we reviewed some of the changes we talked about the previous week. Everyone seems to be on board for the new changes and are up for the ride. If this works out, it may open up other cool opportunites for us to connect with our guests. Outreach Programs and Resource Teams could join us  during Greater Goods. Potential guest speakers during our dinners. It's exciting to think about the possibilities. The great vibes traveled through to our Monday Brunch. Our guests were excited to join us that morning. Our volunteers were eager to help. All the tools for a successful service were there and it showed. Everyone there was happy to see one other. I couldn't think of a better way to kick off the new week. We are always looking for friends to join us during our dinner services. Check out our Get Involved Page to find way that works for you! 


FOLLOW US ON OUR NEW TWITTER ACCOUNT @SundayLovePhila! 

Week #221

Apr 23, 2018

If you haven't checked out our Events/Press page, we just posted our photo album from the WALK AGAINST HUNGER on April 21st! It was such an awesome day filled with games, music and lots of fun! The kid zone was in full effect! The theme this year was superheroes, which we thought was really great! Children were able to paint their own shields and fight against hunger! POP UP PLAY did such a wonderful job creating a positive and fun environment for the children. All the kids were having so much fun that even the adults joined in! Walking the field was definitely awesome especially after they won the superbowl this year! It definitely added to how special it was to hold it there. We were successful in raising over 1,000 dollars for Sunday Love! It almost seemed unfair to have so much fun and still raise a ton of money! Thank you to everyone who supported us and walked in the name of SUNDAY LOVE! You guys are the definition of ROCKSTARS! 

   At the Rittenhouse location, this week we have implemented a couple of new changes. We recently visited Broad Street Ministries and St. Joe's in an attempt to fizzle out the tension and negativity that can build up while waiting for our dinner service to begin. On a typical day, our guests can line up anywhere from 2-3 hours early to recieve a meal ticket. It's not completely necessary but our regular guests insist on lining up early. Standing in line anywhere for 2-3 hours would test anyone's patientence. Due to some impolite guests and complaints from the neighborhood, we are no longer allowing our guests to line up prior to 4 p.m. Also in addition to that, we are adopting BSM's reservation style. As long as you attend either Sunday Night Dinner or Monday Brunch, you are able to make a reservation for Sunday Night Dinner. It would decrease the line from 54+ guests to 24. This along with a couple of other changes, should smooth out the flow of Sunday Night Dinner. We want our main focus is to be the food and the company. Eliminating certain distractions would help everyone focus on our friends and family. We also held an open forum after last Sunday's Dinner. Even though we had some negative comments and conversations arise, guests were able to air their grievances and problem solve solutions. The room had little bursts of conversations. Even if they all disagreed with the changes, atleast it sparks a connection. That'll always be a win in our book. 

    This week in Kensington was a tough one for the community. 5 people passed away over the course of the week. It seemed to really made an impact on everyone in the neighborhood. Daily conversations on getting Narcan and what's "too hot" were being passed down from friend to friend. Unfortunately, Narcan does not do anything for K2. Over the past couple of weeks, I've grown more and more confused by this drug. Maybe it's because I don't see the appeal in it. Tonight while talking to Courtley, she mentioned how it's a full body and mental high. It's something that mimics something familiar but sends you out into the beyond. The side effects are common but somehow still extreme. The way they tighten up every muscle in their body. The way they slowly nod and their shallow breathing. I find myself perusing documentaries on when K2 was sold in smoke shops and shore stores. Depsite having to be 18 to buy it, kids as young as 14 were being hosptilized for bad reactions and addiction to the drug. The toll it takes on your body and brain. Although it's easy to spot someone on K2, it's very difficult to help them. It won't stop us from educating ourselves and our friends to help them from making life altering desicions.

 

WEEK #220

Apr 16, 2018

It's amazing to look on past posts and see where we are now! It's all thanks to our incredible supporters and volunteers. We couldn't do it without them. As the newest member of the Sunday Love Project, I've met some incredible people. The love that just pours out of everyone has been nothing short of magical. We were recently able to help a guest whom we love so much. He was recently a victim of an attack. He was hit over the head and had his belongings taken including his backpack and wallet. We took to the FACEBOOK to help Mohammed out and within days, we were able to replace most of his things with more on the way. A special thanks to Sharon Bender, Magdalena Luzunaris and Amanda Frey Hill for reaching out so quickly to help out. 

   Our past couple of events were a hit! March 17th, we were able to join FADO for their 13th annual St. Patty's Day Breakfast! We were the chosen charity for the 2nd year in a row, thanks to Tom McCourt. It was a packed event within the first 45 minutes of opening the doors. This particular St. Patty Day synced up with a televised Rugby tournament which brought in lots of people. Everyone that came was excited to hear about what Sunday Love stands for. We also had an awesome raffle basket donated by Erica Emmons Alimario! We were able to bring in $789 between the breakfast donations and raffle tickets. Thank you to our volunteers: Heather Brann, Macy Ruiz-Pedersen, Phil Anselmo, Annie Eustance, Terence and Erica Alimario. Stephanie Henry and Tom McCourt were major factores in coordinating this even. Thank you so much for allowing us the time and space to put out mission out there. YOU GUYS ROCK! Check out the video clip from FOX 29 News on our Events and Press Page! 

  Just over a week later, we had a fundraiser at PBC BREWING! On March 28th, they held a Ladies' Trivia night and helped us bring in $212 not including 10% of the bar sales! The place was packed and good times were had by all. Thank you to MaryAnne McClay, Bill and Nancy and the PBC staff for helping us reach our goal!

  Since our last post, we have been working on plans to renovate the kitchen. It's going to cost more than we originally thought but we love a challenge. We've been brainstorming and using local resources to help us get closer to our goal with the help of Madeline Guth. Despite the plans of renovations, we've been pumping out 108+ meals every Sunday evening and Monday morning. Our wonderful chef Meredith Cleary never fails to whip up a delicious meal. Most services end with guests giving their compliments to her through the food service windows. Even after working in the kitchen for hours, she always makes time to chat with the guests. I cannot name a chef that I've met that does that after the meal is served. She truly is one of our greatest gifts. WE LOVE YOU MEREDITH! Our Greater Goods store is still providing groceries and toiletries for our guests and have since included a private HIV screenings. We are working on adding more services and resources for our Greater Goods guests but the word is spreading and we're embracing it! Thank you to our past and present volunteers for all your time and support! 

  Our time out in Kensington is always bittersweet. Since starting the weekly trips out this year, we've seen a lot of new faces. The sense of community and friendships out there are beautiful though. I've learned that being genuine is one of the most important virtues you could have, sometimes that all you can rely on. I've seen the effects of being genuine and of being dishonest. Your name and your word are so important. Being accountable and reliable when you've promised soemthing, that becomes a priority. Making connections and building a rapport with our brother and sisters in need is definitely one of them. Attending events such as the Open Mic Night with Ursula Rucker and Tea and Textiles, both held at the Kensington Storefront has helped to make most of those bonds. They have provided such a warm and welcoming environment. Everyone that walks throught those doors is greeted with a big smile and a hearty hello. It's truly a unique experience every time I'm there. It's so hard to explain how magical it feels when we're there. I encourage you to check it out for yourself. As we are spending more time in Kensington, we are trying to use food as a tool to help our friends further. We have started a ID program on Saturdays mornings to help those who need replacements. Looking forward to providing more resources and knowledge for our Kensington friends. 

 AS FOR UPCOMING EVENTS: Come check us out this Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field for the WALK AGAINST HUNGER sponsored by ACME. We have raised close to $600 in a little over a week! There's still plenty of time to join our team or donate! Check out our fundraising page!

Week #138

Aug 27, 2017

Sunday LOVE was a thing of beauty (and youth!) this week. My favorite part was having two high school students and a college student in the kitchen. This is so rare. The brightest light in my life is having the ability to affect a younger generation. I believe that happened this week.

We served tuna salad sammies, fruit cups, bananas, carrots/celery, cookies, and water. I do believe those ladies churned out about 145 meals. We also served 60 egg and cheese sammies in Kensington, complements of the amazing Meghan Wright.

Thank you to our food contributors: Shannon Dougherty, Meredith Cleary, Jo Buyske, Ellyn Dvorin, Margaret Rom, Brian Foedisch, Jocelyn Craighead, Emma Hess, and Carol Pasquarello (those brownies!).

So much love to our kitchen volunteers: Gillan Conricode, Emma Hess, Maeve Ronan, Christine Wilson, and Meredith Cleary. Since we had extra help, Gillian and Emma made PBJ sammies for the next day in Kensington. Emma is already not a fan of the sammies but she has made hundreds to date, this summer. That, my friends, is a team player. I would like to mention that this was Maeve's first time with LOVE AND in Philly. Her dad, Ger, volunteers with us on the regular, driving from Massachusetts to do so. Maeve told me she wanted the whole experience, from the kitchen down to serving. She wanted to meet all of the guests we serve that her dad has told her about. This girl blew my doors off. I heard her say she was nervous just before we started the line to distribute. I believe that lasted about 2.5 seconds. She was awesome. They all were.

Thank you to our onsite volunteers: Ger and Maeve Ronan, Emma Hess, Gillian Conricode, and Joe.

Joe is currently at Hahnemann Hospital, but allowed out for two hours at a time in between treatments. I feel blessed he found his way back to us, especially given the amount of time he was given to live. He called me this week and I plan to visit him tomorrow. 

A bunch of my guys had not seen the Rachael Ray piece. I thought it was a perfect time to show them since Joe was there. He was BEAMING with pride that we have taken The Project to the next level. I told him he was a huge part of that.  Picture five guys huddled around one phone so they could either see themselves or just something they are a part of. It was awesome.

One of our guests sung Maeve a song, as well. 

It was one of the sweeter Sundays we have had and I really feel that younger energy played a huge part of that. All three young ladies plan to be back out. I truly look forward to that. Even the ever elusive Jake made an appearance!

On to Kensington…food went fast and was well appreciated. I gave out PBJ sammies when we ran out of egg and cheese because, even though I was hoping to save them for the next day, it would have been wrong to turn someone away hungry while I had food in my car.

With the exception of the mental health break I needed yesterday, food continues to be served daily in Kensington. They definitely notice when I don't show up. I am receiving a tremendous amount of kindness and respect out there because of this commitment. But two of my people on the street today told me to pace myself. Incredible.

Thank you to all who helped make Sunday LOVE another amazing experience this week.

We haven't heard from Melvin in a bit. Melvin replaced Joe as our "once homeless but moved on up" volunteer. It's odd that he is not there now when Joe has been. 

You all are amazing people and I am so grateful I get to share one day a week with you. please keep showing the LOVE and sharing the water. It is so hot. My guys in Kenzo told me a man on the Ave leaves his spigot on in the front of his house so they can refill water bottles. Kindness exists everywhere.

Thank you. xoxo

Week #137

Aug 20, 2017

It was all about volunteer, Ann Borell. That amazing woman not only helped me with the 2pm prep, but then stayed through dinner service. That was a solid 7 hours in the kitchen and onsite at two locations. She cranked out 105 Brioche Caprese Sammies which we served with fruit cups, and cookies/brownies.

LOVE Park was lightning fast, as usual. We served everything in about ten minutes. Thanks to our other volunteers: Ger Ronan and his amazing wife, Anna. We had the usual mix of gratitude and disgruntled guests. 

Thank you to those who contributed food: Ann Borell, Jocelyn Craighead, and Colleen Daniel.

The evening service was awesome. There really hasn't been much of a learning curve in the dinner service. Most of our volunteers are LOVE veterans at this point so we all just sort of hit a groove together. 

Many thanks to Nell Bradley who ran the kitchen. We are striving to get to our max seating of 54 guests but the word is not completely out yet. So, we are grateful for the smaller crowd so we can take our time and learn. We served 25 meals of: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and corn. We served peanut butter/chocolate cakes for dessert (thanks to Nicole Hess).

Thank you to all of our volunteers: Nell Bradley, Ann Borell, Carol Romanies, The Hess Family: Nicole, Franny, Emma, and Charlotte, and Meredith Cleary.

The guests raved about the meal and appreciated all of the personal touches like fresh flowers on the tables. I was so impressed with the positivity of our volunteers and their ability to work together so well. I totally scored rockstars with this nonprofit.

Week #136

Aug 13, 2017

Church of the Holy Trinity:  The folks at the church took over in my absence. They served turkey and cheese hoagies, chips, fruit, and snacks. I believe they served around 150 meals at LOVE Park. Thanks to Esha Batia, Sally Griffith, and John Gardner for heading the project. And of course, thank you to all who contributed and/or volunteered on site. Thanks for letting me take a vacation!

Week #135

Aug 06, 2017

We served about 130 meals of: Loaded pasta salad, dinner rolls, cookies/brownies, and water. We served an additional 60 egg and cheese sammies in Kensington, thanks to Meghan Wright.

Thanks to our cooks and food contributors: Jocelyn Craighead, Meredith Cleary, and Margaret Rom.

Thank you to our kitchen help: Meredith and Lauren Cleary, and Margaret Rom.All went well at LOVE. Fast as always. Folks are very inquisitive about my vacation. 

Kensington enjoyed their last week of Sunday egg and cheese sammies as I can no longer serve there on Sundays because we are now serving at Holy Trinity Church for dinner, following the lunch service at LOVE Park. There tends to be many groups that serve in Kensington on the weekends, so I am not overly concerned. I will still serve there Monday-Friday.

Week #134

Jul 30, 2017

We served 126 meals of: Chicken Ceasar Salad, dinner rolls, cookies/brownies, fruit, and water. 

Thank you to our cooks and food contributors: Karyn Leibovitz, Jocelyn Craighead, Ellyn Dvorin, Julia Thompson, and Carol Pasquarello.

Much love to our amazing mother/daughter team that prepared and plated all of the food: Tina McCarthy and Taitlyn. Thank you to that amazing duo for coming out to serve, as well. Joe showed up to serve, even though he was supposed to be in a hospital bed. He did a great job but jot was clear he was exhausted when it was over. I ran him back to the hospital and headed back to the church to prepare for dinner service.

We served our first dinner through the Meals and More grant we received. It was truly lovely. Tablecloths and cloth napkins, and fresh flower centerpieces made by Gillian Conricode. Thank you to our cooks: Meredith Cleary, Joanie Balderstone, Rebecca McIntire, Margaret Rom, and Esha Batia. We served: Open faced roast beef, roasted potatoes, fresh green beans, garden salad, and brownies with whipped cream and strawberries for dessert. 

Thank you to our amazing servers: Emily LaBree, Lynn and PJ Rowan, Kate Heisler, John Gardner, Nicole, Luke, and Emma Hess, and Carol Romanies.

Much love to our (usher) volunteers from The Last Stop: T'juan and Marcy.

We only served 18 meals because word has not yet gotten out about the new site. I suspect it will be a full house next week.While it was a TON of work to serve so few, it felt very intimate and comfortable. Everyone loved the food and the service. This is a sit down meal so every table was assigned their own server. It was truly lovely and everyone did a fantastic job. 

Kate Heisler, Sharon Suleta, and the Hess team all donated sandwiches so we had plenty of bagged lunches if we had an overflow. Since that didn't happen, I was able to serve about 74 lunches the following day in Kensington. Thank you to all of you!!! 

Monday brunch was a hustle but all went well. We served: yogurt with fruit and homemade granola, oatmeal with blueberry compote, bagels and cream cheese, individual quiches, garden salad, and coffee. Attendance was low but again, very few knew it was happening. We served 20 people. Our goal for each seating is 50 people.

Thank you to our cooks: Meredith Cleary, Ben Lariccia, and Peter Ryker. Thank you our servers: John Gardner and Jim McElwain. Much gratitude to our ushers: T'juan and Marcy.

The indoor service was super fun and I am so excited about the upcoming weeks. We will be doing this for one year, so please get involved. If you are interested in serving at the church, please sign up through the Church of the Holy Trinity Facebook page. We need cooks, servers, and ushers every Sunday evening and Monday morning.

Thank you to all who pitched in to make our first two seatings so wonderful. This Project is nothing without its volunteers, so I thank you all from the bottom of my bleeding heart:) 

I hope to see you all again, as well as some new faces! Much LOVE. xoxo

Week #134

Jul 30, 2017

We served 126 meals of: Chicken Ceasar Salad, dinner rolls, cookies/brownies, fruit, and water. 

Thank you to our cooks and food contributors: Karyn Leibovitz, Jocelyn Craighead, Ellyn Dvorin, Julia Thompson, and Carol Pasquarello.

Much love to our amazing mother/daughter team that prepared and plated all of the food: Tina McCarthy and Taitlyn. Thank you to that amazing duo for coming out to serve, as well. Joe showed up to serve, even though he was supposed to be in a hospital bed. He did a great job but jot was clear he was exhausted when it was over. I ran him back to the hospital and headed back to the church to prepare for dinner service.

We served our first dinner through the Meals and More grant we received. It was truly lovely. Tablecloths and cloth napkins, and fresh flower centerpieces made by Gillian Conricode. Thank you to our cooks: Meredith Cleary, Joanie Balderstone, Rebecca McIntire, Margaret Rom, and Esha Batia. We served: Open faced roast beef, roasted potatoes, fresh green beans, garden salad, and brownies with whipped cream and strawberries for dessert. 

Thank you to our amazing servers: Emily LaBree, Lynn and PJ Rowan, Kate Heisler, John Gardner, Nicole, Luke, and Emma Hess, and Carol Romanies.

Much love to our (usher) volunteers from The Last Stop: T'juan and Marcy.

We only served 18 meals because word has not yet gotten out about the new site. I suspect it will be a full house next week.While it was a TON of work to serve so few, it felt very intimate and comfortable. Everyone loved the food and the service. This is a sit down meal so every table was assigned their own server. It was truly lovely and everyone did a fantastic job. 

Kate Heisler, Sharon Suleta, and the Hess team all donated sandwiches so we had plenty of bagged lunches if we had an overflow. Since that didn't happen, I was able to serve about 74 lunches the following day in Kensington. Thank you to all of you!!! 

Monday brunch was a hustle but all went well. We served: yogurt with fruit and homemade granola, oatmeal with blueberry compote, bagels and cream cheese, individual quiches, garden salad, and coffee. Attendance was low but again, very few knew it was happening. We served 20 people. Our goal for each seating is 50 people.

Thank you to our cooks: Meredith Cleary, Ben Lariccia, and Peter Ryker. Thank you our servers: John Gardner and Jim McElwain. Much gratitude to our ushers: T'juan and Marcy.

The indoor service was super fun and I am so excited about the upcoming weeks. We will be doing this for one year, so please get involved. If you are interested in serving at the church, please sign up through the Church of the Holy Trinity Facebook page. We need cooks, servers, and ushers every Sunday evening and Monday morning.

Thank you to all who pitched in to make our first two seatings so wonderful. This Project is nothing without its volunteers, so I thank you all from the bottom of my bleeding heart:) 

I hope to see you all again, as well as some new faces! Much LOVE. xoxo

Week #133

Jul 23, 2017

Another successful Sunday LOVE. Thank you to our kitchen volunteers: Jennifer Stueve and The Brandt Family: Mary Beth, Jim, Caroline, Tim, and Joe.

Much gratitude to our food contributors: Angie Stott, Mary Beth Brandt, Meredith Cleary, Jocelyn Craighead, Ellyn Dvorin, and Colleen Daniel.

We served 105 meals of Tuna Salad over greens, carrots/celery, and brownies/cookies. Everyone was incredibly efficient and super helpful. One of the kids, Tim, said he felt more productive helping to serve the homeless than staying at home playing video games. That's a win. His parents are clearly doing something right! So grateful to all of you for your help. Thank you to Jennifer Stueve who brought a boatload of sneakers to donate. Her kids left for college so it was the perfect opportunity to clean house and help others.

The guests at LOVE Park were mostly well-behaved. There was one woman who read me the riot act because she only got one serving…

Dinner service: Nell Bradley took the reigns again and ran the show. We served 36 meals (increasing!) of :Pulled chicken over Spanish rice and beans, fresh green beans, and a dinner roll. Strawberry shortcakes with fresh whip for dessert. The guests RAVED. 

Thank you to all of our volunteers who made this meal possible: Nell Bradley, Meredith Cleary, Sally Griffith, Ruth Sperber, Tina McCarthy and Taitlyn, Emma Hess, Gillian Conricode, Twan, and Marci.

Everything was super smooth and all of our guest were very impressed. Seconds, please!

We also distributed hygiene bags (extra points for nail clippers, Cherise Poserina!) and clothing. Many thanks to all who sent items for bags or donated much needed items. You blow my little mind with your kindness.

We are also serving Monday brunch and it is going wonderfully. Our numbers are increasing and folks are so grateful to get a healthy meal and COFFEE! Shout out to Bob Logue at Bodhi Cafe for donating the caffeine. And much love to David Roseman at The Bagel Place for donating bagels for our brunch service, and beyond. Please support these wonderful local businesses.

I am going to limit my updates to Sundays because it truly will become a book if I include Mondays. But if you are a part of Mondays, please know how much you are appreciated. None of this could happen without ALL of you. Sometimes I just sit back and think, dreams really do come true. Thank you for helping this little notion of mine come to fruition on a scale much larger than I had ever considered. I am nothing without each and every one of you.

My cup runneth over...

Week #132

Jul 16, 2017

Sunday LOVE was a thing of beauty (and youth!) this week. My favorite part was having two high school students and a college student in the kitchen. This is so rare. The brightest light in my life is having the ability to affect a younger generation. I believe that happened this week.

We served tuna salad sammies, fruit cups, bananas, carrots/celery, cookies, and water. I do believe those ladies churned out about 145 meals. We also served 60 egg and cheese sammies in Kensington, complements of the amazing Meghan Wright.

Thank you to our food contributors: Shannon Dougherty, Meredith Cleary, Jo Buyske, Ellyn Dvorin, Margaret Rom, Brian Foedisch, Jocelyn Craighead, Emma Hess, and Carol Pasquarello (those brownies!).

So much love to our kitchen volunteers: Gillan Conricode, Emma Hess, Maeve Ronan, Christine Wilson, and Meredith Cleary. Since we had extra help, Gillian and Emma made PBJ sammies for the next day in Kensington. Emma is already not a fan of the sammies but she has made hundreds to date, this summer. That, my friends, is a team player. I would like to mention that this was Maeve's first time with LOVE AND in Philly. Her dad, Ger, volunteers with us on the regular, driving from Massachusetts to do so. Maeve told me she wanted the whole experience, from the kitchen down to serving. She wanted to meet all of the guests we serve that her dad has told her about. This girl blew my doors off. I heard her say she was nervous just before we started the line to distribute. I believe that lasted about 2.5 seconds. She was awesome. They all were.

Thank you to our onsite volunteers: Ger and Maeve Ronan, Emma Hess, Gillian Conricode, and Joe.

Joe is currently at Hahnemann Hospital, but allowed out for two hours at a time in between treatments. I feel blessed he found his way back to us, especially given the amount of time he was given to live. He called me this week and I plan to visit him tomorrow. 

A bunch of my guys had not seen the Rachael Ray piece. I thought it was a perfect time to show them since Joe was there. He was BEAMING with pride that we have taken The Project to the next level. I told him he was a huge part of that.  Picture five guys huddled around one phone so they could either see themselves or just something they are a part of. It was awesome.

One of our guests sung Maeve a song, as well. 

It was one of the sweeter Sundays we have had and I really feel that younger energy played a huge part of that. All three young ladies plan to be back out. I truly look forward to that. Even the ever elusive Jake made an appearance!

On to Kensington…food went fast and was well appreciated. I gave out PBJ sammies when we ran out of egg and cheese because, even though I was hoping to save them for the next day, it would have been wrong to turn someone away hungry while I had food in my car.

With the exception of the mental health break I needed yesterday, food continues to be served daily in Kensington. They definitely notice when I don't show up. I am receiving a tremendous amount of kindness and respect out there because of this commitment. But two of my people on the street today told me to pace myself. Incredible.

Thank you to all who helped make Sunday LOVE another amazing experience this week.

We haven't heard from Melvin in a bit. Melvin replaced Joe as our "once homeless but moved on up" volunteer. It's odd that he is not there now when Joe has been. 

You all are amazing people and I am so grateful I get to share one day a week with you. please keep showing the LOVE and sharing the water. It is so hot. My guys in Kenzo told me a man on the Ave leaves his spigot on in the front of his house so they can refill water bottles. Kindness exists everywhere.

Thank you. xoxo

Week #131

Jul 09, 2017

Sunday LOVE was on point this week. It was hot, but I heard not one complaint. The kitchen volunteers were awesome and incredibly efficient, timing things perfectly so nothing got cold before hitting the park.

We served 155 meals of: Brioche grilled cheese and tomato, potato salad, tater tots, bananas, cookies, and water.We also had a generous donation of a Bacon, egg, and cheese bake, thanks to Cia Cinaglia.

Thank you to Meghan Wright for the 50 hot egg and cheese sammies for Kensington. They are so incredibly appreciated.

If you would like to read more about what happens in Kensington, please "friend" me personally on Facebook as I am sort of separating the two areas.

Thank you to our food contributors: Shannon Dougherty, Jocelyn Craighead, Brianna Lindsay, Carol Pasquarello, Mary Beth Brandt, and Beverly Todor.

Much gratitude to our kitchen volunteers: Tom McCahill, Caroline and Mary Beth Brandt, and Karyn Leibovitz.

We were also fortunate enough to have Lindsey McCahill and her daughters: Emma and Lucy, show us how to make plarn (plastic yarn). Lindsey has been making mats for us to distribute to the homeless.She brought one finished mat yesterday that I gave to a man in Kensington. It was greatly appreciated. Caroline Brandt mastered the process of actually crocheting the plarn. I watched in awe as I couldn't comprehend getting past cutting the plastic bag strips.( I am a VERY slow learner). We are collecting plastic shopping bags on a regular basis, so if you need to clear out, we will happily be your drop off! This is recycling at its finest!

Thank you to the onsite volunteers at LOVE Park: The McCahill Family, Ger Ronan, and Joe…

Some of you may remember Joe from the first year of the Project. He was the first homeless volunteer we had who stepped up to help us out. He was religious about showing up on Sundays and treated it like his job. Joe became family to many of us. And then one day, he just disappeared.

As I stepped out of my car on Sunday, he was the first to greet me. After asking him where he had been and telling him how worried I was, he handed me a piece of paper. Told me everything I needed to know was in the section he circled. As I read, I fought back tears. I continued to unload the car, pretending I hadn't just read a letter from Joe's doctor stating he has 6 months to live. Joe has tumors on his liver and it is too far advanced to be placed on a transplant list… I watched as the volunteers took over and let me fade into the background. Joe handed out candy. I disappeared down the line, checking on my regulars. I joked with people and smiled while a part of me was dying.

All went well at LOVE. The food disappeared fast and people were grateful. I picked up trash and got ready for the next round in Kensington.

I drove Joe to Broad and Spring Garden so he could get back to where he is staying. He told me he is torn about telling his kids. He told me he is scared. This is not the Joe I once knew. He has grown gentler. No temper. He admits this took him completely by surprise. He is 55 years old.

Joe IS The Sunday LOVE Project to me. He was the first person on the street who extended himself to me, told me his story. As he opened my car door, I looked at him, smiled, and said, "Go on, get the hell out. I need to cry my way to Kensington." He gave me a hug and told me he loves me. He told me he needed to come find me because I am family. I told him I expect to see him next week, health permitting. He has an opportunity to go into hospice and he likes the idea. He just thinks it's not quite time to give up. He has had one chemo treatment so far.

I never knew how profoundly I could be affected by someone I spent a year of Sundays with, until now. My heart is broken, but we are not done.

Thank you to all who chipped in this week to make Sunday LOVE happen. We need you all more than you know.

Please help us to keep this machine moving. I love you all. xoxo

Week #130

Jul 02, 2017

Sunday LOVE had beautiful weather this week and a very long line. Unfortunately, the sign up was weak so we only served 105 meals at LOVE at about 55 sammies in Kensington.

We served: Chicken/tuna salad sammies, pasta salad/potato salad, cookies, and water at LOVE Park. In Kensington, we served egg and cheese sammies, complements of Meghan Wright. I cannot express how much folks love these sandwiches. People ask me everyday if that's what I am serving. It's like the highlight of their food week!

Thank you to our cooks and food contributors: Jocelyn Craighead, Wendy Williams Cooper, Colleen Daniels, and Shannon Dougherty.

I skipped the church kitchen and kicked it old school, just preparing at home since there were no kitchen volunteers. I cannot physically fit more than 105 meals in my car so food must be limited when there is no help. That being said, even though Sunday was light, we are still putting out about 500-550 meals a week as I am serving daily in Kensington.

Thank you to our onsite volunteers: Ger Ronan and Tom and Kathy Hoffman. Your help was greatly appreciated as we served 105 meals in five minutes. The machine was moving smoothly!

People were much better about forming a single line this week. That was a real struggle in the previous weeks. Not everyone got food, but there was another group serving just after us so hopefully all were fed.

People were in good spirits and very thankful. It was a nice change!

In Kensington, food went FAST. People were dying for water. They were so excited about getting clementines. The little things… They know they are malnourished and they are thrilled to receive healthy food.

Distributed the backpacks that were collected by Heather Brann and Megan Garber. HUGE hit. Saw a bunch of people wearing them today. 

Thank you to Colleen Daniels for sending new sheets and pillows for Erin and Mike, who recently got a room.

I cannot place enough emphasis on the need for water. I am going through about 100 bottles daily. And that is still not enough. I have plenty of storage so please keep it coming!

Much gratitude to Donna Pironti for sending snacks, hygiene products, and UNDERWEAR. We so desperately need it.

Thank you to Jen Gallagher for the sneaker donations. There were several people WITHOUT shoes who were able to fit the sneaks I brought out. THANK YOU!

We struggle HARD in the summers to get donations to keep this thing moving. We need it now more than ever as the meal distribution has increased. We always need pantry items: pudding cups, fruit cups, applesauce, soft granola bars, peanut butter, jelly, etc. So far I have been able to prepare meals daily after work without falling back on bagged lunches. But we like to be prepared so please PBJ me!

Thank you to Lindsey McCahill. Her kids and some friends held a lemonade stand last week and raised $150.90 for LOVE. They also gave us some pantry items and some wonderful cards the kids made for our guests.

Thank you so much to all who helped out this week. Even when it's lean, we get it done but the help is so very much appreciated.

You are beautiful humans. 

xoxo

Week #129

Jun 25, 2017

Sunday LOVE had beautiful weather this week and a very long line. Unfortunately, the sign up was weak so we only served 105 meals at LOVE at about 55 sammies in Kensington.

We served: Chicken/tuna salad sammies, pasta salad/potato salad, cookies, and water at LOVE Park. In Kensington, we served egg and cheese sammies, complements of Meghan Wright. I cannot express how much folks love these sandwiches. People ask me everyday if that's what I am serving. It's like the highlight of their food week!

Thank you to our cooks and food contributors: Jocelyn Craighead, Wendy Williams Cooper, Colleen Daniels, and Shannon Dougherty.

I skipped the church kitchen and kicked it old school, just preparing at home since there were no kitchen volunteers. I cannot physically fit more than 105 meals in my car so food must be limited when there is no help. That being said, even though Sunday was light, we are still putting out about 500-550 meals a week as I am serving daily in Kensington.

Thank you to our onsite volunteers: Ger Ronan and Tom and Kathy Hoffman. Your help was greatly appreciated as we served 105 meals in five minutes. The machine was moving smoothly!

People were much better about forming a single line this week. That was a real struggle in the previous weeks. Not everyone got food, but there was another group serving just after us so hopefully all were fed.

People were in good spirits and very thankful. It was a nice change!

In Kensington, food went FAST. People were dying for water. They were so excited about getting clementines. The little things… They know they are malnourished and they are thrilled to receive healthy food.

Distributed the backpacks that were collected by Heather Brann and Megan Garber. HUGE hit. Saw a bunch of people wearing them today. 

Thank you to Colleen Daniels for sending new sheets and pillows for Erin and Mike, who recently got a room.

I cannot place enough emphasis on the need for water. I am going through about 100 bottles daily. And that is still not enough. I have plenty of storage so please keep it coming!

Much gratitude to Donna Pironti for sending snacks, hygiene products, and UNDERWEAR. We so desperately need it.

Thank you to Jen Gallagher for the sneaker donations. There were several people WITHOUT shoes who were able to fit the sneaks I brought out. THANK YOU!

We struggle HARD in the summers to get donations to keep this thing moving. We need it now more than ever as the meal distribution has increased. We always need pantry items: pudding cups, fruit cups, applesauce, soft granola bars, peanut butter, jelly, etc. So far I have been able to prepare meals daily after work without falling back on bagged lunches. But we like to be prepared so please PBJ me!

Thank you to Lindsey McCahill. Her kids and some friends held a lemonade stand last week and raised $150.90 for LOVE. They also gave us some pantry items and some wonderful cards the kids made for our guests.

Thank you so much to all who helped out this week. Even when it's lean, we get it done but the help is so very much appreciated.

You are beautiful humans. 

xoxo

Week #128

Jun 18, 2017

Sunday LOVE was hot and a bit testy yesterday. The volunteers were amazing and efficient.We saw some new faces on the volunteer side of the line, which is always welcome!

At LOVE Park, we served :120 Mozzarella, tomato, and basil sandwiches, chips, fruit, cookies, and water. We also gave out about 20 ham and cheese sandwiches. 

Kensington got about 50 egg and cheese sammies, complements of Meghan Wright.

There were a variety of complaints yesterday. Not so much about the food, but about why I didn't have socks, tee shirts, book bags, etc. The weather tends to bring out the beast in folks when it gets hot. One man told me he was grateful for what he DID have, and that was the silver lining.

Our kitchen team was lean this week, but perfect! Thank you to Abby Steel, Tina McCarthy, and her daughter, Taitlyn. It was inspiring to see two teenagers in the kitchen yesterday. They both have love for those less fortunate, and it showed. 

Thank you to our food contributors and cooks: Jocelyn Craighead, Carol Pasquarello, and Shannon Dougherty.

Thank you to our onsite volunteers: Kevin Kennedy and Cora Charpentier and their sweet little ones,( Cora also brought about 50 hygiene bags to distribute that were donated, sorted, and assembled by the kids at South Philly Co-op Playschool), Linda Giminez, andy Ungaro, Tina and Taitlyn, Abby Steel, Ger Ronan, and Meredith Cleary.It gets very challenging to get volunteers out in the heat and I am so grateful to all who persevered yesterday.

The Kennedy kids gave out tootsie rolls and smiles. Children always bring joy and I think it's so important for them to see, from an early age, that people are people. There is beauty within a child that we often lose with age. They are pure love.

Not every day can be an amazing day out there. Although there were many demands and gripes, there were more thanks and gratitude. It is always so nice to see our regular guests and continue to build those relationships.

(A quick note: I have not seen Slim in a few weeks…AGAIN).

Recently, I was talking to the chef at Broad Street Ministry about our new serving time indoors that will start in August. He mentioned that when people get out of line at BSM, they take a little time-out. They stay away for a short period of time until they can properly behave in a group setting. When I left the park yesterday, I thought they may need a collective time-out. It has become so demanding there because it is a central location for serving the homeless. We are one of very few groups that serve on the weekends on a regular basis. As much as I want to change locations, I am not sure that is the right thing to do. I know they count on us and I would feel awful about taking away something they have come to rely on. So, for now, we will keep on truckin' and hope for a better week next week.

There is something to be said for the guests telling me we are crazy to still be coming out after some of the things people have said and done. Maybe it's me that needs a time out!

Rest assured, LOVE is not going anywhere. I just want to share my honest opinion with you. 

I served in two locations in Kensington. Since I brought my negative attitude with me, it wasn't much better. Folks watched from across the street for about 15 minutes while I served. As I got into my car to leave, people came running. THREE TIMES. I was told (by an active addict) not to get out of my car after I pack up because eventually, someone may steal my car. While that is not a major concern, it is more that I see I may be too accommodating. I think when I leave, I should leave. This is a move that happens at LOVE Park, weekly. It's one thing to be late. It's another thing entirely to watch from the sidelines because crossing the street is a hassle and then inconvenience me as I try to get hot food to the next stop. It just feels like a power play. I have been serving daily over there and if I don't lay the ground rules now, I feel I will become a doormat.

Don't get me wrong: I have boatloads of compassion and respect. But that respect factor needs to be a two-way street.

Did I say the guests were griping??? Maybe it was just me.

I am in love with this project. Some days are just harder than others, I guess. 

I am so thankful to the volunteers for being amazing and continuing to smile through it all. This IS the LOVE.

Favorite part of the day? One of our guests playing with one of the Kennedy kids. They were both laughing, as was everyone who watched their interaction. I can guarantee that man took that smile with him, all day long.

Please forgive my negativity in this update. It would be dishonest to not be human and just report all the good stuff all of the time. This is life. This is poverty. Ultimately, this is LOVE.

Thank you, all. I love you.

xoxo

Week #127

Jun 11, 2017

Sunday LOVE was a powerhouse in the kitchen this week! The weather was not completely brutal, but I can already see some of the negativity it brings out in our guests. Heat and complaints seem to be a married couple. Nonetheless, we had a great time and served 115 meals at LOVE Park and 50 sammies in Kensington.

At LOVE Park, we served: Mini Baked Ham and Swiss Sliders, potato salad, fruit cups, rice krispy treats, clementines, and water. The meal was well-received. Another group was there just before us but our food still disappeared in about ten minutes.

Thank you to our kitchen volunteers: Jennifer and Katie Stueve, and Fran Hess. While most of our volunteers are very efficient in the kitchen, this was the first week everything worked out perfectly. Getting done early is awesome, but works against us if we are serving hot food. Jennifer and her daughter constructed and baked all of the sammies while Fran made bagged lunches for the overflow in Kensington. (I had already made about 200 PBJ sammies this weekend and the smell of peanut butter was starting to get to me)! I was so grateful for the help. I ended up not needing all of the bagged lunches yesterday, so I was able to serve them today in addition to another 30 hot ham and cheese sammies. I love being prepared! The bagged lunches are good to always have on hand because we will, undoubtedly, run out of the other food we are serving so the back up is key.

Thank you to our food contributors: Meghan Wright (Kensington sammies that are now synonymous with "Sunday LOVE", Jennifer Stueve,Jennifer Linwood, Margaret Rom, Nicole Hess, Erica Alimario, Jocelyn Craighead, Meredith Cleary, Barb Kueny, Wendy Cooper, Joanne Murphy, Amelia Dinina, Erin Shine, Colleen Daniel, and Jo Buyske. 

Much LOVE to our onsite volunteers: Jennifer and Katie Stueve, Meredith Cleary, Lori Judge, Barbara Samson, Heather Symecko, and Paul and Ava Kasper. Ava is like Sunday LOVE's newest mascot. She is so happy to help and loves to volunteer. She brought her grandmother and her parents this week so we had three generations serving LOVE. That's pretty awesome.

The food line went fast and we were packing up by 2:10pm. As we were doing so, Rose Miller and Deborah Horan showed up with children from Linden Elementary (Christopher Horan, AJ Helveston, and Luke and Logan Miller) to distribute backpacks from their school drive in Doylestown. Thank you to Calise and Ava Wanko for helping to collect, as well. The students had collected 73 new backpacks for LOVE. 

Thank you to Stacey Wanko, Rose,and Deborah for creating the collection. The third and fifth graders at Linden made and decorated the best box EVER for backpack drop-off. 

It actually worked out perfectly that they arrived after we were done serving because it can be a bit chaotic when there is more than one thing going on at once. Anyway, the boys did a great job with giving away backpacks and I think they all felt positive about the experience. Since most folks went down to Suburban Station, we took the show on the road. Not too many people were outside after they got food, due to the heat. 

The boys were appreciated by everyone they encountered. They were courteous and enthusiastic and we so appreciate their service. Rose, Deb, and Stacey are hoping this will be the legacy of their fifth graders as they transition into middle school. I commend the school and the students for making a difference in their community. The children are the future and this is a perfect example of looking out for your neighbor. To share is to love. It's one of life's most valuable lessons.

Kensington was lightning fast. They have come to expect the egg and cheese sammies every week and look forward to them. I don't know what will happen if I ever bring something else! They would probably be so confused! We are now "Sunday LOVE egg and cheese" people.

Many thanks to Justine who stumbled upon us at LOVE Park and gave a $20 donation. We look forward too her involvement in the near future.

Thank you to all who participated this week in whatever capacity you were able. While there is no such thing as a perfect circle, the way we hold hands with folks in our community gets us pretty close. I see no gaps, no one left out. It's a beautiful thing. Thank you for being a part of it! The volunteers are EVERYTHING.

Much LOVE. xoxo

Week #126

Jun 04, 2017

Sunday LOVE was a lovely surprise this week. I was fully expecting chaos with the book bag give away, but the volunteers were so awesome and all flowed smoothly. Well, maybe one little issue, but it was squashed. I was upset that one of our youth volunteers got scared, though. But Ava is tough and bounced right back.

The food was a massive hit this week. Thank you to Sorrell Daouphars for making a wonderful menu for this month. We served about 125 meals at LOVE Park and an additional 60 in Kensington. Thank you to Meghan Wright for the egg and cheese sammies! 

The menu: BBQ Pulled Chicken sammies, pasta salad, cookies, bananas, and water. So many people approached me to tell me how good everything was. One guest said he needs that recipe! 

Many thanks to our cooks and food contributors: Jocelyn Craighead, Kris Gold, Margaret Rom, Erica Alimario, Wendy Cooper, Meredith Cleary, Kim Maffei, Robin Berardine, Colleen Daniel, Shannon Dougherty, Lindsey McCahill, and Carol Pasquarello.

Many thanks to our amazing kitchen volunteers: Margaret Rom, Erica Alimario, Linda Giminez, and Andy Ungaro.

Much gratitude to our LOVE paparazzi: Aino Assmus and Alison Woodward Kelly. Aino's dad who is visiting from Germany also jumped in on the food prep line!

A special thanks to Gerd Diewald for serving in Kensington. Gerd said the food went in about 20 minutes but the need for water was HUGE. So please, drop those case of water to us. We never have enough!

And of course, thanks to our onsite volunteers: Ger Ronan, Heather Symecko and Ava, Andy Ungaro, Linda Giminez, Lori Judge, Margaret Rom, and Erica Alimario.

Thank you to Soozung Rankin for TONS of toilet paper and bedding. We were just asked the week before by one of our guests, who now has a home, for sheets. How cool that some brand new ones turned up right on time? Lori was super grateful. An overall thank you to The Church of the Holy Trinity for being so amazing to us. Between the kitchen, the onsite volunteers, and just the general love and support, we truly feel blessed to have partnered with these beautiful people.

We brought so many backpacks out to LOVE Park and I am not really sure how many were distributed but my guess would be around 100. Each bag was filled with hygiene products. A million thanks to: Cori Majeska, Nell Bradley, Amy Severin, and Mimi Murphy for helping to put those together. And of course, thanks to all who contributed to the backpack drive and/or bought hygiene products.

The bags will continue to be distributed in the next couple of weeks, primarily in Kensington. I gave some out yesterday in Kensington and people were so grateful. To not have to carry your belongings in a trash bag is a thing of beauty. And just a general game-changer. It may be a little less obvious that people are struggling with homelessness which makes others perceive them differently. It's sad, but true.

We marked our guests hands with a Sharpie marker to prevent any double-dipping. I think this system worked far better than the ticket system we have used in the past. Honestly, I did not get involved in giving away backpacks because of the situations that have come up in the past with sleeping bags. I stood back and watched as the volunteers did it all, while smiling. Give aways stress me out when I know it is something they really need. I was so grateful to watch from the sidelines. They were much appreciated.

The vibe was good yesterday, for the most part. The weather was pleasant and folks were very chatty.

We are hearing more and more about the need for foot care in Kensington, as well as the need for first aid packages. Stay tuned, but this may be our next drive.

Also, last week, Sunday LOVE was awarded a $6000 grant (plus $2500 toward purchases at PhilAbundance) so that we can serve an additional 100 people INDOORS, at The Church of the Holy Trinity, starting in August. The duration of the grant is one year. We are very excited to partner with The Food Access Collaborative/ Meals and More Program. We will need tons of volunteers on Saturday and Sunday nights.We will keep you posted as we work out logistics and get closer to the start date. We will also have support services involved so that folks have access to the resources they need. It's all SO EXCITING! 

Thank you to all who helped out this week. And thank you to all of our supporters who helped us look good enough to get this grant! We were up against six other organizations, so I am feeling very proud of the LOVE community.

I know we typically see less folks in the summer in terms of volunteers. However, this is quite the opposite of the guests. Our numbers often double in the food line. So, if you find yourself sticking around for some summer weekends, please keep us in mind. It is only about a 20-30 minute commitment to come out and serve.

I love you all to bits and pieces! xoxo

Week #125

May 28, 2017

Sunday LOVE was a cake walk yesterday, thanks to our amazing volunteers. The weather was beautiful and those we served, thankful and joyous.We served 198 meals between LOVE Park and Kensington for the 2pm service. I then went out last night and served another 29 meals. We provided 81 bagged lunches to Angels in Motion and another 40 slices of pizza on Saturday night, thanks to Ramble Pizza. We provided The Last Stop with 18 bagged lunches for today.I served 24 egg and cheese sammies this morning in Kensington. So, we served somewhere in the ballpark of 400 meals this weekend. Sometimes I lose track of the numbers because serving has become this impulsive thing where I think I am going to sit down for ten minutes, but then realize there is food in the fridge and it would not be right to hold out when people are starving a mile away.

We served Sloppy Joe's, tater tots, sliced cucumbers and carrots, fruit cups, cookies/brownies, and water. We also served egg and cheese sammies in Kensington, thanks to Meghan Wright at The Abbaye. Nineteen pairs of Bombas socks and Gold Bond were distributed at Kensington and Somerset. Baseball caps and socks were distributed at LOVE Park, thanks to Soozung from The Church of the Holy Trinity.

We continue to be incredibly thankful to Holy Trinity Church for allowing us to use their kitchen. They are truly beautiful people and really go out of their way to accommodate us.

Thank you to our cooks and food contributors: Shannon Dougherty, Ellyn Dvorin, Jocelyn Craighead, Kathy Natale, Lindsey McCahill, Jennifer Siegel, Ryan Solimeo, Bill Derbyshire, Erica Lynn, Brian Maiolo, Meredith Cleary, Carol Pasquarello, and Tanya Dyke.

Much love to our kitchen volunteers: Meredith Cleary, Jennifer Siegel, Brian Maiolo, and Lindsey McCahill. What an awesome and incredibly efficient team!

Thank you to our onsite volunteers: Ger Ronan, Nia, Lori (once homeless, now helping us serve), Aino Assmus, and Gerd and Mia Diewald.

Lindsey McCahill also made two more plarn mats (made from grocery bags) to sleep on. These are truly amazing and she uses about 600 bags for each one. That being said, GIVE ME YOUR plastic shopping bags so we can turn them into mats! I gave one to Travis who said he would let me know how it worked out. I have one more to distribute. Folks love them but they are a bit bulky so some folks said it would be too much to carry. This may work for my people at the Emerald Street bridge as they are covered from the elements and have set up camp there.

Yesterday was smooth sailing. I knew the line would be long at LOVE because of the beautiful weather. We were short on volunteers but we made it work, as we always do. Special thanks to my girl, Nia, for handing out plasticware. And of course her grandfather, Slim, palmed me another $5. One of our volunteers has said he will match Slim's donations to LOVE at the end of the year. We will then figure out what he needs and take care of that for him. Slim is losing his hearing so I may speak to him about the possibility of hearing aids. He currently has $55 in his envelope. If he is agreeable to hearing aids, I may need some help with that. Maybe we can get them discounted???

Joyce, one of our volunteers asked me if I was gaining weight. So now you understand the level of comfort these folks feel with me! I took my low self-esteem to a kids birthday and ate pizza. I love that they are that comfortable with me. Truly.

The report from Kensington is that the egg and cheese sammies, along with the socks, disappeared at lightning speed. There is NEVER enough. Much LOVE to the Assmus/Diewald family for running that show.

As I mentioned above, I did serve again last night because we had an excess of rolls and I had jumbo cans of tuna so on it went…

Thank you to Tanya Dyke who randomly found us online and dropped off brownies and women's care packages at the church. All was incredibly appreciated.

Much gratitude to Anthony Oriti for planting a garden for LOVE in the raised beds provided by the church so we can grow our own food. I am so excited for fresh veggies, especially after seeing how crazy people went over cucumbers and carrots yesterday in Kensington. If you would like to help out with watering, I will not turn you down! It's located on Master Street, behind the Crane Arts building.

We will be distributing new backpacks, filled with hygiene products, on June 4. There is a sign up for products we need at sundaylove.org. Please message me for address if you would like to send directly.

Also, we are trying to plan a plan party so Lindsey can instruct others how to crochet the mats. This can happen on a Sunday while we use the kitchen, as there is plenty of space. Please contact me, if interested.

Thank you to all who participated this week. We are on a roll of serving 400 or more meals a weekend. That is a beautiful thing. I am so grateful to each and every one of you for the LOVE.

Please don't ever stop! xoxo

Week #124

May 21, 2017

Sunday LOVE was a smooth operator this weekend in the kitchen. The weather was perfect and the volunteers plentiful. All of our bases were covered and we served 206 meals total between Kensington and LOVE Park. The menu included: baked ziti, salad, garlic bread, cookies/brownies,cupcakes, bananas, and water. And of course, egg sammies for Kensington.

Lots of good stuff to come about this week, but first, the gratitude. A special shout out to Brooke Honeyford-White, Ian White, Stephen Shea, and Justin Heulitt for making 200 cupcakes for Mothers Day. They were so appreciated and we are so grateful for the contribution. Such an amazing gesture.

Thank you to our cooks and food contributors: Donna Pironti, Jocelyn Craighead, Jo Buyske, Emily LaBree, Jennifer Siegel, Kris Gold, Lois Mongeluzi, Meredith Cleary, Carol Pasquarello, Shannon Dougherty, Georgia Burns, Kim Maffei, Mary Beth Brandt, and Meghan Wright.

Lots of LOVE to our prep team at the church: Georgia Burns, Meredith Cleary, and Stacie, Dave, and Kayla Pratt. These guys were a well-oiled machine and got food out so efficiently. I was touched to see a family involved together on the plating of the food. I think it was the perfect way to spend Mothers Day! I think Stacie thought so, too. Rock stars!

Thank you to our onsite volunteers: Melvin, Linda Giminez and Justin, Sorrell Daouphars, Georgia Burns, Erica Vanstone, Meredith Cleary, Jocelyn Craighead, Aino Assmus, and Mia Diewald.

I went to Kensington this week but all feedback I received at LOVE Park was positive. Sorrell made 100 bags of socks and Gold Bond to distribute to our guests. The socks were complements of our new partner, Bombas, who gifted us 500 pairs of socks two weeks ago. We have been giving them out in various spots. This often creates a mob scene at LOVE Park, but it still needs to happen. I heard folks were thrilled about cupcakes and socks. Who wouldn't be? (Seriously, two of my favorite things).

We were incredibly blessed to have our new partner, Distributing Dignity, come out to Kensington to hand out new bras and underwear, and feminine products to our guests. We served at Kensington and Somerset. Joanie and Rebecca, the amazing team behind this organization, were able to do their thing in helping others in a different environment. This is an area of active drug use, but the need for bras and underwear is no different than other area. They made a lot of women smile. They also gave out make-up.(It was sort of hilarious to watch us try to match these women with make-up when none of us ever wear it!)

I had some pretty intense conversations with the ladies I met. There is nothing but pure honesty out there and while it can be hard to hear, giving them the opportunity to talk is worth its weight in gold. 

I could go on a rant about the opioid epidemic, but our mission is food. LOVE, FOOD, and DIGNITY. All of these components were present yesterday and I am so grateful to Distributing Dignity for coming out to make these women feel like they should feel on a daily basis: LOVED.

Rebecca expressed that she wished they had a more private space to hand these items out. In the largest open air drug market in the country, I assured her this was the most innocent and appreciated thing out there. But damn, I loved that she even considered that. Distributing Dignity for the win!

There is so much that can be taken away from LOVE in such a short period of time. It's unreal. The women I met yesterday blew my doors off. The stories… there is an abundance of both sadness and beauty on the streets. If ever you think you need to learn a lesson about caring for others first, come to Kensington and meet some of these folks. I have never seen people in such dire need of medical attention or food in my life. And they will put someone else ahead of them, every damn time. I heard zero complaints yesterday. Think about that.

Thank you to all who made LOVE possible this week. 

We managed to crank out 351 meals between Saturday and Monday. This thing is on the move. And you, my friends, are the wheels. Please. Don't. Stop.

Much LOVE. xoxo

Week #123

May 14, 2017

Sunday LOVE was a joyous and efficient machine yesterday. Actually, LOVE has grown branches in the past few weeks and had also been making bagged lunches for another organization in Kensington on Saturdays. The absolute outpouring of support makes my heart skip a beat. It is so beautiful and uplifting.

All said and done, we served 456 meals in 4 locations over the weekend. The number of people we are serving is increasing weekly and I see no end. There is just NEVER enough. The feeling I get when someone walks up after all the food is gone creates a pit in my stomach. And quite often sends me back to the kitchen for another round. Why are people going hungry one mile from my home?

But, let's focus on what we were able to do, Thanks to all of the amazing people who donated such a surplus of food this weekend to make this all possible. Much LOVE to: Shannon Dougherty and Liz Pedersen at Cedar Point Bar and Kitchen for the massive amount of delicious leftovers from a wedding they catered, Meghan Wright from The Abbaye for the egg and cheese sammies, Nicole Hess, Joyce Schubert, Jocelyn Craighead, Annie Eustace, Brian Foedisch, Kathy Natale, Margaret Rom, Mary Beth Brandt, Jennifer Lorenzi, Barbara Kueny, and Megan Moran.

Thank you to a rock start kitchen staff. I was quite late to the church because of the Broad Street Run (traffic issues), but when I arrived, the volunteers had already started in the kitchen. We worked efficiently and got 231 meals out the door on time.Thank you to: Meredith Cleary, Jocelyn Craighead, Margaret Rom, and Nicole and Danielle Hess.

We served everything from chicken salad to meatloaf to fried chicken, risotto, collards, mashed potatoes, rhubarb, bananas, fruit cups, veggies…there was SO much food!

Thank you to Heather Symecko and Ava for making 100 bagged lunches on Saturday! 

Jocelyn headed to Kensington where she met up with Aino Assmus to distribute food. They went to The Last Stop and then to Kensington and Somerset. Aino reported that she got so many "bless you's" that she is good for a long time! She told me the new location has somewhat brought her back to the beginning when she started with LOVE: the emotions, the heartbreak. But she also said she feels welcome, and not afraid, at Somerset. When we truly open our eyes, there is pain. It comes with the territory of this work but the amount of beauty so often prevails to a point of managing the pain.

I would also like to add that Aino made a very generous donation to LOVE for her birthday. She donated for every birthday wish she'd received last week. Aino has a lot of friends! I am so grateful to know such a wonderful and selfless woman. She also distributed sandwiches in Kensington on her birthday. Talk about beautiful. When we realize that we have everything we could ever want in life, because it lives within us, giving becomes natural. If you can lift someone up with such a simple gesture, why wouldn't you?

LOVE Park was full of folks and our volunteers were amazing. We distributed all of the food in about 10 minutes. Thank you to: Melvin, Nicole and Danielle Hess, Ger Ronan, Margaret Rom, Sorrell Daouphars, Karyn and Colleen Kelly,and Virginia Friedman, 

The tunes were playing, the weather was agreeable, and smiles were a dime a dozen. I love catching up with our folks on the street and hearing about how they spent their last week. There are a lot of great stories. Everyone loved the food and were super appreciative. Except one guy who hates mayonnaise. While we have had this conversation before, I finally came up with a solution. I told him I would bring him a bagged lunch with PBJ and snacks next time we served anything with mayo. He loved the idea. Problem solved!

I also chatted with a guest I have known since the beginning. She had a place to live but her boyfriend physically assaulted her and fractured her ribs. She showed me the paperwork from the hospital and also the names and numbers of places she needs to go to get a restraining order, etc. She assured me she wasn't going back. I have watched this woman through addiction, pregnancy, and homelessness. I was really glad she showed up yesterday. I like that she knows we are a safe place for her and she trusts us.

Another woman was having a conversation with one of our volunteers and at the end of it, I heard her quote Jean-Paul Sartre. "Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does." I wish I had heard more of that conversation!

After LOVE, I decided to go another round because I had so much food left from the goods donated by Cedar Point. I took a bunch of meals over to Kensington and Somerset where the food disappeared in minutes. One man told me he hadn't had a hot meal in weeks. The amount of gratitude was a bit overwhelming. The things we take for granted are such a gift to someone who goes without.

A huge shout out to Bombas socks for their donation of 500 pairs os socks. I make packages of socks and foot powder to distribute in Kensington. we will do the same at LOVE Park next week. Again…the little things.

Thank you to those who donated clothing and shoes. I will distribute this week as there was no room in my car on Sunday for anything other than food. But please be assured that all will certainly go to good use.

A million thanks to our mystery donor who sent 40 pairs of sneakers and lightweight jackets. What an amazing gift. Many of the sneakers were distributed on Saturday. 

This community blows me away every week. The success of LOVE is a direct result of everyone doing a little. It amounts to a lot. I could not be more grateful.

Thank you to all who participated this week. this thing just keeps getting better! Much LOVE. xoxo

Week #122

May 07, 2017

Sunday LOVE had beautiful weather today and wonderful volunteers. This whole kitchen situation at The Church of Holy Trinity is a real game-changer. We are super grateful for their support of The Project.

We served 242 meals today between the two locations. We also got Meghan Wright's trademark egg and cheese sammies, (Thanks, Meegs! xoxo) We served 150 meals at LOVE and it took all of 15 minutes. There were a few people who showed up at 2:10 and the food was gone. 

We served: lasagna, garlic bread, fruit cups, cookies/brownies, bananas, and water. The food looked and smelled amazing today and many folks commented on how delicious the meal tasted. 

That being said, lets thank the cooks and food contributors: 

Meghan Wright, Amy Smith-Sweeney, Cia Cinaglia, Jo Buyske, Jocelyn Craighead, Lois Mongeluzi, Jennifer Siegel, Jennifer Stueve, Ellyn Dvorin, Colleen Daniel, Julia Thompson-Callio, Carol Pasquarello, and Shannon Dougherty. I love you, all!

Many thanks to the folks in the kitchen today: Jennifer Stueve, Meredith Cleary, Jocelyn Craighea