Saturday, September 21, 2019

Volunteering Part of Homeschooling

Six-year-old Dash Wilson was cleaning the table with determination. His 8-year-old brother, Skye, was wielding a broom, with dad Eleyah offering a tip on how to sweep more efficiently. Meanwhile, 19-month-old Kaleah was shadowing her brothers, offering advice in screams and shouts.

It was just another day of community service for the homeschooled Wilson family — except that the location was Mother Marianne’s West Side Kitchen.
The Wilson Family
Eleyah, Kaleah, Skye and Dash.

 As part of homeschooling, Eleyah noted, “we want to instill a commitment to community” and  to let them see there’s more to the world than “their own sandbox.”

“We want them to get experiences where they can understand things about life.”

They go out volunteering “two to four times a month” back home in Tampa, Florida. Eleyah said they’ve been in the Utica area for a few weeks visiting his wife Janna’s mother, who is recovering from a motor vehicle accident.

He is the homeschool educator. Janna works for a company that allows her to work from home. Wherever her computer is, that’s her office.

Why volunteer at the soup kitchen?

Eleyah said he contacted several organizations. Mother Marianne’s West Side Kitchen “welcomed us.” 

Guests and volunteers were impressed with the children.

John Knight, who volunteers three days a week, rewarded them with popsicles and said:

“Thank you for helping out today. It was so cool.”

Friday, August 30, 2019

Honored for What He Loves to Do

It’s “humbling,” Ed Morgan told the crowd, “to be recognized for just doing something that I love to do.”

Those were Ed’s simple, yet telling words as he received the Saint Mother Marianne Cope Award on Aug. 18 during the 160th Anniversary Celebration of the Secular Franciscan Order’s St. Joseph Fraternity.

I had the privilege of making the presentation before 100 people during a luncheon banquet at the newly opened Irish Cultural Center.

The plaque read: “In recognition of coordinating the soup kitchen operation and leading/inspiring the volunteer force, resulting in serving nutritious lunchtime meals to the … working poor, jobless and homeless; treating hungry children and adults as blessings; serving over 53,000 meals a year.”

Friday, August 23, 2019

Zoo Comes to the Children

Checking out the hognose snake
Checking out the hognose snake
There were giggles, murmurs of awe, even strange quacking on the lawn outside Mother Marianne’s West Side Kitchen.

The occasion was an appearance by the Utica Zoomobile on a sunny Friday in August.
West Side Boutique’s Nancy Robert coordinated the visit for neighborhood children, many of whom have been eating at the soup kitchen during summer vacation.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

A Culture of Giving Back

When Maria Fessia decided to pursue a second career in barbering, she learned more than just cutting hair. The barber school she attended instilled “a culture of giving back,” she said, with students doing such charitable works as providing back-to-school haircuts for the underprivileged.

Maria Fessia
Maria Fessia
So it was only natural for her to stop in at the soup kitchen to offer her services – and she was surprised to learn about its boutique and salon that serves the financially strapped. She met boutique coordinator Nancy Robert and returned on the first Monday of the month to meet Debbie Moorhead and Linda Perrymen as they provided haircuts. With a number of clients queuing up, Maria pitched right in. Going forward, she plans to offer haircuts on an alternate Monday, thereby expanding the soup kitchen’s service.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

These Volunteers Love Their Work

“Wow, Richard. You look great.”

Volunteer Nancy Robert was fussing over a guest at Mother Marianne’s West Side Kitchen. He was getting a free haircut in the soup kitchen’s boutique and salon.

It was the first Monday of the month when guests could reserve a spot in one of the barber’s chairs and get a haircut from Debbie Moorhead and Linda Perrymen, owners of Hair Solutions in Yorkville.

They manage to trim and style the hair of 15 to 16 guests in a one-hour period before going back to work at their own salon. Linda and Debbie started volunteering their skills four months ago after donor Mary Gearhart of Queen’s Closeet in Yorkville approached them about helping out.

“It’s very rewarding,” said Linda.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

'I wanted to do something more'

Nancy Robert
Nancy Robert
Nancy Robert started volunteering at Mother Marianne’s West Side Kitchen last October. A month later she was spearheading an effort to provide warm clothing and toiletries to soup kitchen guests.

“I wanted to do something more,” she simply states.

That’s not an uncommon sentiment for someone volunteering at the soup kitchen.

As Nancy put it:

“There’s a lot of need in that area of West Utica…
“Homeless people. Hungry people.”

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Who has the bigger heart?

Edward Morgan, director of Mother Marianne’s West Side Kitchen, wanted to show his gratitude, along with that of the Advisory Board and parish, to the volunteers that make the soup kitchen an impactful operation. So he organized a volunteer banquet at Club Monarch May 17, 2019.

Nearly 100 volunteers showed up. And they instead thanked Ed.

Terry Decker reads "proclamation."
Terry Decker reads "proclamation."
Terry Decker, who volunteers with her husband Bob on Wednesdays and Fridays, took to the podium and announced that the volunteers were presenting Ed with a proclamation, titled, “Ed Morgan, the Man with the Biggest Heart!”

Terry read the proclamation, which said, in part:

“Thank you for making such a wonderful difference in the lives of the people you meet and provide services to in our community.

“It is our honor to work alongside you as you work tirelessly to help the less fortunate, providing meals for them seven days a week.

“Even when you could relax with friends and family, you sacrifice your time and energy…

“What a tremendous asset you are to our community and to all of us who work with you!”

Later in the evening, when this “man with the biggest heart” shared that he would need to trim his hours for a while as he deals with a health issue, but that he would remain as director, the volunteers jumped to their feet and gave him a standing ovation.