Reflections by Board President
Hunger within any community arises from many causes, a product of the human condition that too frequently escalates from confusion to homelessness and despair. Alleviating hunger demands our whole energy, our material charity and, above all, our active compassion. Profoundly engaged in CSK’s core mission to combat this demoralizing problem, our staff have worked tirelessly this past year to provide over 75,000 meals. The figure represents a 2% increase over last year; in April, May, September, and October, we served over 7,000 lunches each month. Yet these statistics, staggering in themselves, speak of only one facet of several needs. For, hunger apart, many lack other essentials. Thus, in December, the Hill Health Center provided free flu vaccines at CSK. Our guests also can access confidential HIV screenings and blood pressure readings.
As the statistics would suggest, CSK’s material needs continue to be urgent; resources are continually needed to perpetuate our work. And indeed the pervasiveness of the interrelated problems facing many of our neighbors gives reason for discouragement. Yet upon broader reflection, CSK has reason also to rejoice: Through the collaboration of a deeply committed Board, the daily direction of CSK’s indefatigable and ever-cheerful coordinator, Dave O’Sullivan, together with the excellent administrative assistance of Megan McDermott, the magnificent kitchen management of Robert “Poncho” Jackson, and the food preparation of our cook Sherry Williams, CSK has fulfilled its mission in its 37th year, while remaining financially sound thanks to the generosity of our many benefactors. And so, although 2015 will certainly challenge CSK’s human and financial resources, we can, in a genuine spirit of thanksgiving, celebrate the accomplishment of this year, even as we anticipate the next.
Our short-term success is to provide free nutritious meals to everyone who comes in our door. We have never had to turn anyone away for lack of food.
Our ultimate success would be to go out of business for lack of work, until then we will continue to feed everyone who comes to our door.
Our Board of Directors monitors and evaluates the success of the soup kitchen on the following criteria:
In 2009, we provided 67,396 meals with expenses of $299,532 and ended the year with a surplus of $30,852.
The scourge of homelessness grows more prevalent in our community; too many of our neighbors lack food, shelter, warmth and, more important, compassion. Soup kitchens and shelters strive to meet rising needs, straining budgets and raising concern about how the needs of those we serve can be met. We cannot dismiss our neighbor’s needs as troubles without solution, and so simply look away. As Francis asks, “Who am I to judge?” In fact, the difficulties so many of our neighbors experience are too deeply rooted to permit easy characterization: At bottom, there is fear and loss. Yet in this season of joy, there is indeed light and hope!
These past weeks have seen an outpouring of neighborly good will and heartfelt generosity borne of genuine love for the benefit of the mission at Community Soup Kitchen (CSK) on Broadway, beginning with what has become Christie’s annual, hugely successful gathering of good fellowship, food and spirts — high and otherwise — followed by another evening of good food and company sponsored by Anna Liffey’s and culminating magnificently this past Dec. 17, by the glorious music of the New Haven Symphony’s 4th riotously joyous Christmas benefit concert at Woolsey Hall.
Truly the three gifts of the Magi of which St. Matthew speaks pale in comparison to the gifts of CSK’s three great friends, increased by those of a fourth — Christ Church at Broadway, which has sheltered CSK for more than a quarter century. Indeed, the treasures which CSK’s great friends have given are the fruit of their members’ dedicated collaboration, profound understanding and magnificent compassion. That CSK’s institutional friends, acting with such vigor through their devoted members, can come together with such unabashed joy to share a vision of love, hope and service implemented through practical resolve and manifest in material good gives new life to the ancient feast of Christmas, bringing light both to those whose experience is often otherwise and so to us all. As president of CSK, I extend my deepest gratitude to all of CSK’s benefactors, whose efforts give glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth bring his peace to all men of good will. Merry Christmas!
— David J. Crotta, Jr. New Haven President, Community Soup Kitchen
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A strong community not only meets its members’ basic needs but also works to create long-term solutions to their problems. Provide people with affordable housing, enough to eat and access to affordable health care and you enable them to envision a better future for themselves.
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