Editor’s Note: Lexie is a proud AmeriCorps VISTA alum with a master’s degree in Communications & New Media Marketing from Southern New Hampshire University. She currently works as the Volunteer & Community Engagement Coordinator for NEHDA and the Syracuse Northeast Community Center.
As part of our collaboration with NEHDA, we’ve asked her to write guest posts for us each month, taking a deeper look into the Northside, its businesses and residents. All of her posts can be found under the “NEHDA” category. To learn more about NEHDA, visit their website and Facebook.
We all know that with the joy and happiness that the holidays bring, there is also a lot of stress involved. Who is coming into town? Is there enough time to clean the house? Do we have enough food? Can we afford a turkey?
For some families in Syracuse, this is a very real question—and organizations like Assumption Church’s Food Pantry are helping to relieve that stress. Thanks to generous donors, the pantry has 150 turkeys to give away this year for Thanksgiving.
When families find out that they will have a turkey for the holidays, “you can see the weight lift off of them,” said Ana Thesing, the Pantry Coordinator and FrancisCorps Volunteer. Ana shared that she sees three or four people in her office every week consumed with worrry about food security. It can be difficult to ask for help, but that is why the Assumption Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen exists: to help serve those in need.
In just October of 2015, the Pantry supplied 7,515 meals to over 260 families, and the Soup Kitchen gave out nearly 7,500 sandwiches. The programs run seven days a week, from 11:00am- 1:00pm, and the Soup Kitchen opens again in the evening on weekdays from 4:00pm- 5:00pm.
When giving out meals at the Soup Kitchen window you will hear “Thank you,” “Have a great day,” and “God bless!” from most of the clients. There is no judgement or rejection at Assumption; all of the volunteers are united in the mission of providing meals to those who need them.
The volunteers who help at the pantry come from all backgrounds and social circles. Once you step into the busy kitchen there is no time to worry about where people come from, what they do for a living, or even what religion they belong to. There are sandwiches to make, pots to stir, trays to clear, and clients to serve.
As a FrancisCorps Volunteer, Ana has chosen to dedicate one year of her life to this service. Originally from Minnesota, she now lives with four other volunteers who are serving at different ministries in Syracuse. The mission of FrancisCorps is Gospel Service; to have volunteers “share their gifts and talents in a year-long, faith based community.” Ana and her housemates share at least one meal a day, make time for daily prayer together, and have a weekly community night that they take turns planning. Their year is just as focused on personal growth as it is on developing their professional skillsets.
In the small kitchen/pantry space, volunteers laugh and interact as a family, clients are greeted by name, and the mission of Saint Francis is lived daily: “Preach the Gospel always, if necessary use words.”
Learn more about the Franciscan Church of the Assumption, visit their website and “like” them on Facebook. To help support the Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen this season, consider purchasing cookies from the church’s fundraising effort, Fat Friar.