Wednesday, May 20, 2009

He Had to Retire to Work at the Soup Kitchen

Working 60 hours a week, including evenings and weekends, left little time to try things he wanted to do.

So Psychologist John McCabe retired a month ago -- after 32 years as a state employee.

And for the past three weeks, he has spent his Tuesdays and Wednesdays volunteering at the soup kitchen.

"I wanted to do more," he said Wednesday, before sinking his arms into a sink full of soapy pots and pans. He had heard about West Side Kitchen a year ago in church when Deacon Gil Nadeau made a pitch for volunteers.

John was laughing and chatting with other kitchen volunteers (Joanne Lockwood, Mary Schmitt, Pat Haguit and Connie Mulhill). The group took a break to pray together -- to prepare themselves to serve their hungry guests. Two other volunteers -- Mary Stronach and Bill McMyler -- arrived in time to join them. They read a poem, "Strange Prints in the Sand," where God tells of holding someone in his arms, only to drop him on his butt. For there comes a time,

"when one must rise and take a stand
Or leave their butt prints in the sand."

That prompted them to discuss how tough times often spur people to turn to God. After a few minutes, they ended the discussion and returned to their stations.

The doors were opened, and a line of people poured in. The first in line was a blind man with a white cane speedily making his way along the familiar corridor.

"Wayne!" the kitchen staff cheered in unison. He was the first of 74 guests Wednesday, which included three moms pushing infants and a toddler in strollers.