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“We’ve been doing this, it seems like forever,” Chet Norstrom said as he sliced into a pan of lasagna.
For almost 20 years, on the 10th of each month, he leads a group from his church, Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, in preparing lasagna at Emmanuel Dining Room. It all started with the church’s former pastor and his wife.
“She had a special recipe for making lasagna that didn’t require cooking the noodles,” he said, and that made preparing big batches of lasagna much easier.
That pastor has moved on, but Chet continues to bring 12 pans, holding 21 servings apiece, to the dining room each month. He gives credit to the staff who make help him in his efforts, meeting him at his car and carrying the heavy pans — about 20 pounds each—into the kitchen.
“After I retired, I felt I had time to do something for the Lord. I remembered in the Bible, it says, ‘Feed my people,’” Chet, a retired engineer, said. “It just broke my heart to see all these people standing in line, trying to get food. It’s tough. There’s a lot of poverty around this area.
“We’ve gotten good reports back from our diners,” he said. “They love the lasagna and we love to make it for them.”
Howard Burch, a combat veteran, spent two nights in the woods before finding shelter at House of Joseph I.
A 56-year-old Marine combat veteran who served in Beirut, Lebanon, Burch had post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from his service, compounded by strife in his family.
“I was caught between a rock and a hard place,” he said. “I just wanted peace. I wanted to practice peace.”
Burch was recently divorced and had been living with an Iraq War veteran, but she became caught up in drug addiction. He knew he had to move out, but he had nowhere to go. While he was looking for a place to live, he learned his niece had been sexually assaulted, and he began feeling anger he couldn’t control. He went to the urgent care center at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Coatesville, Pennsylvania.
“They told me they didn’t have no beds,” he said. “I slept in the woods for two days.”
A counselor at the VA told him about the House of Joseph I (HOJI), the Ministry of Caring’s emergency shelter for men. Burch made an appointment to meet the shelter director, Tony Attaway, but he thought it would be another dead end. He admits to having trust issues with men. He had grown up with an alcoholic father, who showed up drunk to his high-school track meets, if he showed up at all.
“I came in here, sat down here, and as soon as I saw Tony… there was something about him,” Burch said, sitting on a couch in the HOJI living room. “I heard him out, we did the interview, and I stayed. Since I’ve been here, everyone’s been a blessing.”
Attaway said he saw a courageousness in Burch.
“He was quick to stand up and speak out for what he felt was right,” Attaway said. “Being in the military, he came home with that same attitude, ‘I will stand up and defend you.'”
Burch said, “I’m one of the ones who survived the Beirut experience. I just got tired of surviving, feeling as though every day was about surviving instead of just living. [House of Joseph I] gave me an opportunity to practice the small things—cleaning up in the morning, setting the table, breaking the table down, praying over the food, being thankful for the little things.”
Burch began volunteering at Emmanuel Dining Room, and found comfort in serving those who were even less fortunate than himself.
Everywhere he went, he brought his backpack, filled with a notepad and a first-place ribbon he won in a singing contest. He discovered he was eligible for significant financial support due to his combat-related medical condition. After about a month at HOJI, he added a new item to his backpack—a key to his new apartment. There’s one HOJI staff member he was ager to show it to—his case worker, Jeremiah Thaara.
“Mr. Jeremiah, I can’t wait to see him tomorrow. He challenged me. He wanted to see the keys to my apartment. He wanted to see the lease agreement,” Burch said. “I like to be a man of my word.”
Several local business are collecting new and gently used coats, hats, scarves and gloves, which the Ministry of Caring will distribute to homeless and poor people. Adult and children’s sizes are needed.
To donate an item or to set up a collection point at your workplace or other site, please call 302-652-5523 or email email@example.com.
Our Efforts Are About Community Collaboration… The Delaware HIV Consortium and the Ministry of Caring are collaborating again this year for the annual ‘Easy as Pie’ fundraising campaign. Proceeds from this fundraiser support our programs statewide.
The Ministry of Caring is committed to serving the ongoing needs of the poor; providing food for the hungry, shelter and housing for the homeless and for individuals with AIDS, job training, dental care, child care and advocacy for the disenfranchised. The House of Joseph II is a permanent 16-bed residence for individuals living with HIV or the advanced stages of AIDS. Residents live as fully and independently as possible in a caring, nurturing environment receiving care for their physical, nutritional, medical, and psychological needs.
Your donation not only gets you a delicious Thanksgiving pie or baked good from Linvilla Orchards, Just Desserts by Jekeitta, Achenbach Bakery or Pellman Bakery, but also provides vital services to Delawareans infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. Your donation will provide food, housing, medication co-pays and financial assistance to someone living with HIV/AIDS in Delaware.
The TJX Foundation, the charitable arm of the TJX Companies, which owns Marshalls and HomeGoods, presented the Ministry of Caring with a donation of $10,000 at the opening of the new Marshalls store in Christiana, Delaware! The money will benefit Mary Mother of Hope House II and III, emergency shelters for women with children.
We are so grateful to have this support. Thank you, TJX!
Emmanuel Dining Room volunteer Ellie Corbett Hannum contributed the following essay:
Wednesdays are very special to me. It is the day I have the privilege of serving the guests of the Emmanuel Dining Room.
I am a newbie volunteer to the Ministry of Caring. Rita and Tom Sweeney have been doing it for 25 years, so they taught me the ropes. Ann Trzuskowski, another Wednesday volunteer, told me that about 20 years ago Mark Reardon asked her if she could drop off some doughnuts for him because he had a meeting and she said sure. She has been coming ever since.
We have a lot of fun working together. My husband, Buzz, and I have been doing it for about two-and-a-half years every Wednesday. The other volunteers do every other Wednesday but have been doing it for a much longer time. The camaraderie is great and the caring for each other and all the people we serve is palpable. There is a commitment to make the start of our guests’ day the best it can be. Great care is taken to make the oatmeal, display and serve the doughnuts, juice and coffee in a manner that would appeal to each of us. I am in charge of the beverages, so I ask each guest if they would like some milk in their oatmeal, serve glasses of milk and ice water.
When I first started, a few people mentioned to me that the milk and water weren’t cold enough. So I remedied that by making more trips to the refrigerator, so that the cartons don’t sit out too long, and by keeping a bucket of ice handy to replenish ice when needed in the water. A small effort, but something that really makes them happy.
The company I work for, Veritext Legal Solutions, loved to hear stories about the people that come in and what a wonderful job the Ministry of Caring is doing for so many deserving people in our community. Veritext asked what they could do to help, so we participate in the Delaware Charity Challenge and have raised over $5,800 a year for the past two years which is directly donated to the Ministry.
Also, I was instructed I could only allow people one glass of milk. I reached out to my daughter-in-law, who is an executive at Wawa, and told her that it’s pretty hard to tell somebody they can’t have a second glass of milk. Wawa stepped up and gave us a donation so that we no longer have to say no.
You become very familiar with a number of people. The first few weeks I volunteered I had to turn away a few times to dry my eyes because it really broke my heart to observe the plight of many of our guests, but as time moved on I learned to focus on what I can do, not what I can’t. I can’t cure poverty, but I can deal with each individual who crosses my path one by one and treat them with the courtesy, dignity and love that I would hope people would treat me with if the roles were ever reversed.
So Wednesday mornings are special — they’re fun, they’re fast, they’re touching and in a very small way they make me feel that I am doing SOMETHING to help. God bless my fellow volunteers and all involved with the MOC.
—Ellie Corbett Hannum
We know the Christmas season isn’t here yet, but it’s not to early to start preparing! We are selling 30 of these beautiful wooden Nativity scenes for $30 each. Proceeds will benefit our programs for the poor.
To purchase one, contact Sister Gretchen at (302)652-5523.
Hope House I — Our first program has been a place of peaceful refuge for women for 40 years.
House of Joseph II — A home full of love can make all the difference to people with HIV/AIDS.
Child Care Center — Happy kids in our early learning centers mug for the camera.
Hope House I — Residents of our women’s shelter tell their stories.
Videos we like. View the list by clicking in the upper-right corner.
The word “intern” usually conjures an image of a young graduate, making his or her first foray into the workforce. But that’s not the case for Mary Mellon Trotter, who spent the summer as a mental health counseling intern in the Ministry.
Mellon Trotter already had a long and successful career in the nutrition field. She even helped Michelle Obama develop a nutrition program. But she decided to move in a new direction, so she went back to school and recently graduated from Neumann University with a degree in counseling.
“It’s never too late,” she said.
Mary was part of a team of four summer interns supervised by Shannon Ayres, the Ministry’s mental health counselor, who works with clients in the shelters and other programs.
She and one other intern, Blair Souder, finished their time in the program last month, after completing 250 hours of pro bono counseling services. Souder holds a degree in chemical engineering and an MBA. Like Mary, he went back to school later in life, earning a counseling degree at Neumann.
When asked about their experience at the Ministry they both chose the same word, “transformative.”
“It would be impossible to not carry this experience with you for the rest of your life,” Mellon Trotter said.
At a small gathering to mark their successful completion of the program, Ayres commended them for their service.
“As counselors, we are asked to bear witness to a lot of suffering, a lot of loneliness, and a lot of life’s core deep issues. The fact that the two of you were willing to come in and shelter these clients with your hearts, it takes a very special type of person,” Ayres said.
“It’s really planting the seeds and allowing people to grow from that. A lot of times these people have never been afforded the opportunity to have people listen to them in a non judgmental way, in a real compassionate way.”
The other two interns, Amanda Moore and Sr. Kathy Flood, OSF, are still in the program.
Moore, 27, works full-time as a para-educator with the Delaware Autism Program and is studying for a masters in mental health counseling at Wilmington University. In her internship, she spends time mostly at Hope House II and House of Joseph II.
Moore says a lot of her work with Ministry clients focuses on helping them to forgive themselves and others.
“The moments that stick out to me are the moments you can see the hope in a client’s face. You’ll sit for a session, and they’re not feeling like they have a lot of hope. But then you see the light bulb click on, when they realize they’re able to be successful in life,” Moore said.
“I’ve had a few of those moments, and they have been really rewarding for me, to see their face light up. It’s why, as counselors, we do what we do.”
—by David Sullivan, communications intern
Join the Ministry of Caring at the First Annual Crab Fest!
Saturday, September 10, 2:00-8:00 PM, at the Cavalier Country Club
Would you like to advertise your organization at this year’s Crab Fest, while supporting child care programs for poor and working families?
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All sponsorships include your company logo printed on all event banners and marketing material.
|Category||Pricing||Admission Included||Tax Deductible Amount||Beverages Included|
|Crab Imperial Sponsorship||$5,000||8 VIP||$4,600||Beer and mixed drinks|
|King Crab Sponsorship||$1,000||6 VIP||$700||Beer and mixed drinks|
|Crab Legs Sponsorship||$500||4 VIP||$300||Beer and mixed drinks|
|Soft Shell Sponsorship||$250||2 VIP||$150||Beer and mixed drinks|
Please send the form along to email@example.com to be featured on the sponsorship banners! Include your logo, if possible — .png or Vector Files are preferred if possible for best quality.