breakfast program

NEW DOWNTOWN LOCATION: THE GATHERING ON STATE STREET

THE GATHERING ON STATE STREET

Capuchin Community Services - St. Ben’s Meal, 924 W. State Street

The move is complete.  The Gathering at St. James is now The Gathering on State Street.  Coakley Brothers packed and moved equipment, food, pots & pans, carts, prep tables and more on Friday and Saturday, March 24/25.  It took a semi and two delivery trucks.  Gathering staff, board members and volunteers spent Saturday afternoon cleaning, organizing and stocking the new site.

Our first Breakfast on State Street was Monday morning, March 27, with 178 guests.  We were greeted with bouquets of flowers from our friends and new landlords at Capuchin Community Services, St. Ben’s Community Meal – Br. Rob, Dean, Mike and Mark.

 

The move was celebrated on Tuesday with a fire brigade style passing of the remaining pots, pans and food items from St. James to St. Ben’s with the help of 100 Brookfield Central Key Club members and 50 other volunteers.

It has been a stressful AND GLORIOUS process, this move.  Our Capital Campaign goal to raise $50,000 formoving, equipment and renovation expenses was met by April 1.  Donations of money were matched by donations of supplies, time, expertise, creativity and skill. 

 

The space at The Gathering on State Street is much bigger than that at St. James, so we could use more volunteers each morning than we have in the past.  If you and a friend or two would like to join us some morning, please know that we welcome walk ins.  Be at the State Street location, 924 W. State, at 7:00 a.m. and be able to stay until 10:00.  If you have 4 or more volunteers, please call The Gathering office (414-272-4122) to get on the schedule.

 

We are blessed!  People in community feeding the hungry came together,

and I am confident will continue to do so.

THANK YOU ALL!

2015 Volunteer Award Recipients

INDIVIDUAL VOLUNTEER AWARDS

The GEORGE GREENE AWARD for exceptional service by a guest turned volunteer is named after founder and long time Gathering Board President. The 2014 Award was presented to Ray Pryor, a faithful Breakfast Program volunteer. Ray could not be present at the event as he recently became employed as a truck driver.

Breakfast coordinator, Angela, presents Ray with the George Greene Award

Breakfast coordinator, Angela, presents Ray with the George Greene Award

The following individual volunteers reached SERVICE MILESTONES in 2014 for number of years of continuous volunteering:

25 years – (Saturday Cooks) Vergie Bond, Toby Carney, Nick Eusch, Joe Graf, John Keene, Lee Klugiewicz, Roger Kocher, Tom Nabke, Maria Phelps, Chuck Thimmesch, Dean Thome, and Judy Young; (Breakfast Volunteer) Mary Rockstad; (Saturday Cooks & Coordinators) Shari Egan, Dorothy Evans; 10 years – (Saturday Coordinators) Harry Ansley, MaryBeth Ansley, Cheryl Ganske, Harvey Ganske, Marie Hoven; (Breakfast Volunteer) Deacon Ned Howe; (Saturday Cook) Tom McGinn; 7 years – (Saturday Coordinator) Roger Carroll; (Saturday Cooks) Michelle DaCosta, Linda Cesario, Roger Dickinson, Karen Meunier, Mark Meunier, Richard Thickens, Jason Thurow; 5 years – (Saturday Coordinators) Joe Kaja, Kris Ochocki; 3 years – (Saturday Cooks) Paul Acker, Sue Acker, Betsy Fryda, Amy Fryman, Nick Hirsch, Nick Hirsch, Lisa Hirsch, Regina Hirsch, Rita Hirsch, Erin Puariea, Coco Rodriguez, Millie Tillman; (Saturday Coordinators) Kelly Boettcher, Kunal Kapoor; (Saturday Cook and Coordinator) Sherry Walker

Volunteers played picnic games like Bags. For some, it was their first time! 

Volunteers played picnic games like Bags. For some, it was their first time! 

GROUP AWARDS

The following groups reached SERVICE MILESTONES in 2014 for number of times volunteering:

350x – Marquette University High School; 175x – Emmanuel Community United Methodist Church; 150x – Thomas More High School; 125x – Slinger High School; 85x – North Shore Presbyterian Church; 75x – Youthworks; 50x – Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, St. Stephen the Martyr Lutheran Church; 35x – East Troy HS NHS, Hillside Community Church, Northwestern Mutual, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church; 25x – Mt. Calvary Lutheran School Hope Club, 15x: God’s Work Our Hands, Slinger High School Skills USA; 10x – Associated Bank, Casa Romero Center, Christ UMC, Faith UCC-Slinger, Good Shepherd Catholic Church, Manpower, Salem UCC, St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, St. Monica, Ulster Project.

Matthew, breakfast volunteer, excitedly accepts the Goodwill Volunteers’ Friend of The Gathering Award

Matthew, breakfast volunteer, excitedly accepts the Goodwill Volunteers’ Friend of The Gathering Award

FRIENDS OF THE GATHERING AWARDS

Given to agencies, groups or individuals who have demonstrated exceptional compassion and dedication to The Gathering itself or to those we serve:

Jim Ardis and Dennis Stokhaug (Retired Gathering Operations Managers); Goodwill Volunteers (weekly breakfast volunteers); Duane Drzadinski and Compost Express (Fresh Produce Preservation Project collaborator); UW-Milwaukee Center for Community-Based Learning Leadership and Research & Marquette Midnight Run (weekly student volunteers); Wauwatosa Avenue United Methodist Church (monthly muffin donations); St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (ongoing in-kind, monetary and volunteer support); Suzanne Foster and St. James’ Congregation – Mukwonago (thousands of homemade Christmas cookies and treats)

Volunteers enjoyed picnic fare

Volunteers enjoyed picnic fare

FRESH PRODUCE PRESERVATION AWARDS

Given to individual volunteers who have reached milestones with the Fresh Produce Preservation Project:
35x – Eileen Duffey; 10x – Jill Kortebein and Lisa Kortebein

St. James Building for Sale

View of the front of St. James Episcopal Church

View of the front of St. James Episcopal Church

If you volunteer at the Gathering’s breakfast program or the Saturday lunch located at St. James Episcopal Church, you have probably seen the “for sale sign” out front. A few months ago the St. James congregation made the very difficult decision to find a buyer for the building and secured the services of Ogden and Co. to handle the marketing. The expense of keeping up with the maintenance and repairs of this 1867 historic structure had become overwhelming. The intent of those attending St. James is to stay together as a worshipping community as long as possible and wherever that might lead.

St. James Episcopal is where the Gathering began, formed from the vision of Fr. Michael Stolpman and the Episcopal Diocese. In January of 1982, Fr. Charles Lynch, Rector (pastor) of St. James, together with the Wardens and Vestry (governing body of the church) welcomed the Gathering to the downstairs kitchen, and the rest is history. It continues to be the Gathering’s busiest site, serving 900 plus meals weekly; welcoming 20-40 volunteers six days a week – 1/3 from our guest population; offering collaborative mental health, medical and legal assistance; and housing our Fresh Produce Preservation Project. St. James also hosts the Red Door Clothing Ministry and Sundries from the Avenue, a St. James ministry distributing toiletries and other items to those who are homeless.

The Gathering has formed a committee to look at our options should the building be sold and we are asked to move. At this point in time there have been no offers, and a quick sale is not anticipated.

Welcome Angela and Rosy

One of the realities of working in a meal program is the ever-changing population of guests and volunteers. This often means a lot of difficult goodbyes, but it also means that we are constantly welcoming eager folks into our community. Gathering staff, on the other hand, have been a consistent presence. But that all changed in late summer of 2014 with the resignations of our long time Breakfast Coordinator, George Neureuther, and our Breakfast Cook, Cary Gibson.

We have been blessed to welcome two talented and passionate staff members to the Gathering’s team: Angela Wright and Rosy Ricks. Both began working in September; Rosy as the Gathering’s Breakfast Cook, and Angela as Breakfast Coordinator. The team hit the ground running with new menus, new volunteers, and fresh ideas.

Angela sorts through sign-in sheets, community service paperwork and more after breakfast

Angela sorts through sign-in sheets, community service paperwork and more after breakfast

Angela

Angela came to the Gathering through her work as Dinner Program Coordinator for the St. Vincent DePaul Society’s south side meal site. Thanks to this experience, she already had a relationship with a number of our guests as well as plenty of experience running a meal program. When asked how she got involved in this line of work, she was inspired by the parable of modern day Good Samaritans, people who stop to help victims of poverty when society may not. 

The Bible tells a story of a Priest, Levite and a Good Samaritan who all came across a poor injured man in the road. The 1st question the priest and the Levite asked was, If I stop to help this man what will happen to me?’ But the Good Samaritan reversed the question If I don't stop to help this man, what will happen to him? I got involved for the opportunity to help and serve others. I believe that my purpose in life is to praise, worship and serve God. What better way to serve him than by giving and helping others?

This answer demonstrates that Angela’s faith is a huge motivator in her chosen path. She acts out her faith daily by greeting everyone with a smile, never-ending patience, and humor. She explained that interacting with all of the people at the breakfast program is another big motivator for her.

I have the privilege of opening up (the meal site) every morning Monday-Friday, running, ducking and dodging any ghosts that may be lurking in the dark in order to get things prepped for a group of great volunteers willing to help feed those less fortunate. Then I get to be able to talk to and meet people that are in need of a kind gesture, a little motivation, some resources, but most importantly a nice cooked meal. Thank God for the cook! (Rosy the magician can hide almost anything in her dishes), and the security from our gatekeepers, Great Lakes Security, and the assistance from always helpful Bob Heindl and smiling Deacon Ned. I really enjoy seeing God at work blessing others. I enjoy meeting individuals like Ray, Reggie, Craig, Curtis, Stephanie and Noda, just to name a few, that are living testimonies of God’s love for us.

Angela’s faith-filled purpose and appreciation of others is made clear in the way that she interacts gently and compassionately with guests, volunteers, and even Lydia, the fabled St. James’ basement ghost. Angela has a calming presence and a deep concern for the well-being of everyone in the Gathering community. We are honored to have her as a part of our team.

Rosy

Rosy has a lifetime of experience cooking and exploring unique avenues to bring about a more just food system. Whether it’s growing her own food, working in various soup kitchens, purposefully living in community, or just thinking up innovative ways to bring people around the table. She is never short of ideas, and the Gathering community has benefited.

“Everyones a pretty good sport when I dream up an unusual dish or start sneaking healthy things in. I like that weve jelled together as a flexible and functional team and that coming to work is actually something I look forward to. I also like chatting with Dennis and Jim [Gathering Operations Coordinators] when they come in and how receptive they are to my strange ingredient requests. I feel challenged in all the right ways and supported by a lot of really amazing people and I cant say thats something Ive experienced too often working in nonprofits.”

We are convinced that Rosy could make a delicious, nutritious meal out of just about anything. So far her dishes have included biscuits with gravy loaded up on vegetables and meat, chicken campanile, chunky potato and meat soup, turkey or vegetarian chili, and many more. Just don’t be surprised when you see a carrot or some greens hiding in your entrée.

Rosy shared her secret to getting all the food on the table and the kitchen in order each morning. 

Mornings are pretty tough for me, but I really do love what I'm doing, so it makes getting out of bed a little easier. When I come in, there are a few regular volunteers there to do some of the daily tasks, like rolling silverware or pulling down chairs. I start by doing an inventory of the cooler, getting things into the ovens, and determining what kind of help I will need for cooking and prep tasks with Angela. I try to get a read on folks to see who has the types of skills I need for the day. Often, it's been getting meat off of bones, making stock, and prepping veggies and starches for soups and multiple ingredient dishes.

Curtis also lends a hand every now and again with pulling meats and veggies, and Craig has the most important job of all; making sure the coffee is ready as soon as humanely possible. (Curtis and Craig are long time volunteers from the guest population.) Once we are prepped and ready to serve, I will keep one or two volunteers in the kitchen with me to help with running food to the line, or prepping for the next few day’s meals. Occasionally, I get a really exceptional kitchen volunteer, and that allows me to do more complex dishes, like the turkey and wild rice stew with cherries or Chinese style dishes.

Is your mouth watering yet?

Angela and Rosy have worked hard the past few months managing the fast-paced, energetic atmosphere of the Gathering’s Breakfast Program. They have done it with grace, style and efficiency. We are so thankful to have them as a part of our team and we look forward to what they will be able to accomplish in 2015.

Poems by Darnell

Darnell with fellow volunteers

Darnell with fellow volunteers

Darnell has been with the Gathering for over a decade. The past few years, he has been a regular breakfast volunteer. You can see him most days stationed at trash and trays, cleaning up after the meal.

A couple days ago, Darnell shared some poetry with us. He has been working hard on his creative writing and wrote a couple of poems about the Gathering that he was willing to share. 

This first poem is about Darnell's strong faith that he enjoys sharing with others.

God’s Gift
Trust me you don’t have to think twice.
God’s gift to us all was the gift of life.
Yes God is up high above,
And another gift he gave us was love.
And at The Gathering we always give,
And that too is a gift from God, that helps us all live.
With time the way it is it can sometimes be tough,
But with the gift from God you never get enough.
If you really want a peace of mind,
Call on Jesus he’s not hard to find,
God will never in life let you down,
With Jesus in my life freedom I truly found.

Darnell wrote this second poem specifically for the Gathering. It is about what the Gathering means to him (and many others).

The Gathering
The Gathering feeds all that come,
And if you’re hungry, come and get some.
The Gathering helps with all kinds of things,
Oh what a joy on many faces the Gathering brings,
The Gathering helps everyone any way they can.
They don’t give up, united they stand.
The Gathering helps those that are in need,
They help me as much as possible, you’ll be pleased.
The Gathering is one of a kind
They are located on 9 and Wisconsin, not hard to find.
So if in the morning you need something to eat,
Go to the Gathering, their meals can’t be beat.
They give out clothing and medical supplies
So if you’re in need, give ‘em a try.

Thank you Darnell, not only for your skills as a volunteer, but for sharing your creativity and passion with us!