Note: On Saturday, March 17, 2018 Food For Friends partnered with “Together with Elgin Community Dinners” and Jeff Turner of Dream Foods to provide a St. Patrick’s community meal served at First United Methodist Church 216 E. Highland Ave., Elgin, IL 60120. 45 Food For Friends volunteers served. And….Thanks to the generousity of our donors, we were able to provide 400 pounds of Corned Beef for this event.
The following article was sent in via email by Theresa Kyriazes. The Food For Friends Board would like to thank Theresa for both volunteering and for sending us this amazing recap of her serving experience.
March 17, 2018
Hello, thank you for the opportunity to serve those less fortunate with FFF, at Elgin’s First United Methodist Church on St. Patrick’s Day. It was a humbling and loving opportunity for me.
I had the pleasure of meeting so many wonderful people and hearing their stories. Like, the mom and dad and their 14-year-old son Larkin. Larkin’s parents beamed with pride, certain that one day Larkin was going to be “a computer tech guy!” Their love for their son spoke volumes!
Then there was a man named Doug. He lives on the streets, which was obvious by his rough sun baked skin, his blood shot eyes and his layered clothing…but his smile was powerful. Doug was shuttled around by his dad for many years…a few years ago, they returned to Elgin from California…Doug’s father passed “a couple of years ago” and Doug explained to me how grateful he was to this church on cold nights. He described how they section off the basement for the woman and children, and where he and the other men sleep. “It’s not every night, just the real cold ones.” “They wake us up at 6am and we go across the street for breakfast at the vineyard.”
Then there was Manny. A nice looking 28-year-old young man. He had a broken foot…. which only drew more attention to him, but God was tugging on my heart to talk to him. I knew his story before he even told it to me. His mom moved into the city, his dad lives in Elgin…but he doesn’t know him well. Currently he is living at his friend’s parents’ house. He was quiet and polite, only answering questions when I asked them. His education level hadn’t reached a GED yet. My heart ached for him, young and the potential to be stuck in a system.
Several times as I walked around meeting people, I just wanted to cry. Tears of gratitude because this is not my reality, by God’s grace. Tears because, so many people are dependent on the grace of others, and not realizing that it’s really the Grace of God. Tears that families with small baby’s and single moms like the very young mom of 4-month-old Rosalee; so full of hope for a good future, Her mom trying her best to do what she can to help her daughter. The struggle is real. Yet, through all this brokenness there was laughter and joy. Smiles and hugs. Conversations of real life and shared love, God’s love. All because of a simple meal. A meal donated with more than food, but with love. EVERYONE was very grateful for the meal. The consistent reply when I asked, “How’s the meal?” was… “Great! The food is good, but this Irish soda bread is delicious!” Some have never had Irish soda bread before….and asked if I knew how to make it? Which I confessed…I don’t.
Back to Manny, the 28-year-old. He stayed for a long time. He had several servings of food and coffee. I passed by him and saw Peter, (a volunteer, whose life mission is reaching the homeless and sharing the saving grace of God through Jesus Christ one meal at a time) I tried to listen in/lip read what they were saying…I couldn’t understand. That’s when I realized that Peter was speaking Spanish to Manny! Manny was engaged and attentive to what Peter was saying. This conversation went on for almost a half an hour. I sat with Peter’s wife and 2 kids at the desert table they were serving at, I explained to her how my heart broke for this boy. Luci, confidently assured me that God works through her husband. Luci shared with me that her and her husbands mission is….to “Go where God calls them and bring a meal and the Gospel to those hurting…” when suddenly, Luci’s husband Peter was standing there before us. Beaming with Joy and asking his wife for one of their cards…explaining that the Lord has another member in His fold, heaven boom!! Peter and Manny exchanged phone numbers, Peter asked Manny to join him and his family one day in serving others, like he was served……. Manny agreed. Boom! What else is more important?? Nothing!
Thank you to FFF for the part you played in God’s Kingdom work. Everyday, I am more and more convinced that it is NOT about me, but ONLY about Him and the plans He has for each of us to carry out for His purpose here on Earth.
Thank you again for the opportunity to serve and meet so many wonderful people! My life has not been the same since I met this organization.
Food For Friends Volunteer
Note: For more photos from this event, see our photo album “2018-17March – Elgin Community Dinner” on our Facebook page.