Local volunteers, church groups serve female guests in shelter with a restaurant-style meal that restored hope
Just prior to Easter, a regular volunteer at St. John’s Ministries and a member of Pilgrim Lutheran Church, presented a unique idea of serving female guests in shelter on Easter Saturday. The concept was simple and very thoughtful, but it wasn’t the normal way of serving a meal.
Think about how families gather for Easter brunch at restaurants. Lisa (name changed for confidentiality) wanted to create that experience for guests. Although breakfast is served daily in shelter at St. John’s, it is normally provided at an ala carte counter.
Lisa, her husband, friends from Pilgrim Lutheran Church, and friends from St. Matthew Catholic Community, brainstormed to create a restaurant-style experience for the women. They were awarded a Thrivent Action Team mini-grant of $250, which provided money to purchase food for a full breakfast menu with multiple options. They also had white tablecloths with place settings and created beautiful centerpieces fitting for an Easter meal. Pilgrim Lutheran School students from Mrs. Schumm’s 6th-grade class filled bags with candy, prayer books, and gifts. There were plenty of Easter eggs to go around, too!
Their kindness meant the world to guest Mary, who has been staying in shelter since December. She moved back to Green Bay in October to help a friend recuperate from a physical ailment. Once her friend recovered, Mary was asked to leave the apartment by her friend’s landlord. Since then, options for permanent housing have fallen through, which has been hard on her. “It seems like landlords don’t want to take a chance on me because I’ve been homeless for so long,” she said.
Mary has found love, acceptance, and support from staff, volunteers, and fellow guests at the Women’s Shelter and at Wellspring. This was proven during the breakfast experience Lisa and her fellow volunteers provided.
Mary explained that all she had to do was “sit down and everything was taken care of.” Volunteers took her order and brought food to the table. She raved about the variety of menu options but chose the broccoli and cheese quiche (her favorite), bacon, ham, fruit parfait, and milk and coffee. The servers then sat down with Mary and engaged in conversation. All these little touches brightened Mary’s day, and during Easter weekend made life in shelter much more manageable, even joyful.
“They treated all of us like human beings,” Mary said. “When we are on the streets and people know we are homeless, they figure we are not worth talking to. But the servers were so nice. The breakfast was so touching. I loved every bit of it,” she said. “It showed us that people really care.”
St. John’s Ministries’ volunteers and supporters are an incredible group of people. From preparing and serving meals, providing hospitality, doing loads of laundry, and landscaping and maintaining our facilities, they continually bless and enhance the ministry and guests with kindness. Thank you!
For more information on how to arrange a Thrivent Action Team or opportunities to volunteer or involve your church in our ministry, contact Brooke Graham at email@example.com or Jesse Brunette at firstname.lastname@example.org.