March 23, 2005
|A UMNS photo by Michael DeBorja
Volunteers pack bread at a community kitchen in the Bronx, New York.
By Michael DeBorja*
YORK (UMNS) — United Methodist Volunteers in Mission often is
associated with building and repairing schools, homes and churches, but
the program offers many kinds of service opportunities.
winter, for example, 19 youth and adults from the North Central New
York Annual (regional) Conference traveled to New York City to serve
people who are poor, hungry and homeless.
trip was organized by Sylvia Reimer, a retired
obstetrician-gynecologist who has led teams to rural work camps but
wanted to raise awareness of the needs in urban settings.
Feb. 24, the group checked in at the International Youth Hostel on the
Upper West Side of Manhattan. The following afternoon, with sleeping
bags in tow, they took the subway down to the Youth Services
Opportunities Project office at the Friends Meeting House near Union
Square. The project is the largest provider of student volunteers to
agencies that work with people who are homeless and hungry in New York.
Vogel, the work camp leader, talked with the participants, which
included a group of high school students from the city, about
stereotypes of the homeless and the reasons why some people are
Later, the group visited with and served a meal to about 15 homeless
people from Peter’s Place, a drop-in center. James Macklin, outreach
director for the Bowery Mission, talked with the volunteers about how he
lost his business because of cocaine addiction and was homeless for
|A UMNS photo by Michael DeBorja
Volunteers prepare a meal at St. Joseph's Soup Kitchen in Greenwich Village, New York.
day, a young woman woke him while he was sleeping in the subway and
handed him a card for the Bowery Mission, which gave him an opportunity
to reclaim his life. Sometimes, one might not know the road one might
have to travel, he told the group, adding that a smiling face can heal
more than anything else can.
volunteers were divided into seven service teams the next day, fanning
across New York to places like Part of the Solution (POTS) in the Bronx.
There, they helped repackage bread for the food pantry, prepare fruit
juice and other food, wrap silverware, and serve and clean up after
in 1982 by a Jesuit and a Sister of Charity, POTS runs a community
dining room where food is served restaurant-style. Open 7 days a week,
the program feeds 300 to 450 people a day.
teams helped out at St. Joseph’s Soup Kitchen in Greenwich Village,
which serves lunch on Saturdays; University Community Soup, in the
basement of Nativity Church in the East Village, which serves breakfast
and lunch; St. Thomas Episcopal Church in midtown Manhattan, which
distributes bag lunches; Park Avenue Christian Church, which serves
lunch from a high-tech kitchen donated by Colonel Sanders; Open Door, a
city-run, drop-in center near Port Authority Bus Terminal; Neighbors
Together in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, which serves lunch to 300
people a day; and Christian Help in Park Slope (CHIPS), a Brooklyn soup
By the time the volunteers met together at the end of the day, they had served 1,912 people.
A list of volunteer opportunities around the world is available at http://gbgm-umc.org/vim/world.htm.
*DeBorja is a mission volunteers staff member for the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or email@example.com.