Hunger Is Not a Disease

Tom Pacheco Performs Peace Concert December 15th

Tom Pacheco, a local and extraordinary songwriter and singer/guitarist will perform his annual December Peace Concert along with Brian Hollander at 8:00 pm on Saturday, December 15th at the Rosendale Café, 434 Main Street, Rosendale.

Tom Pacheco is a much loved performer who writes poetically beautiful songs. He tells stories of life in a penetrating style which sends a message about fighting for the truth. He and Brian Hollander have played together many times at concerts in the area.
Tom Pacheco is also a personal hero of mine. His support of the food pantry as we served hungry people went beyond words. On two separate occasions, Tom Pacheco played concerts with all proceeds going to feed hungry people.

The Rosendale Café doesn’t take reservations but serves fine vegetarian food. For more information, see rosendalecafe.com or call 845-658-9048.

Tom has his own chapter in this book because of the work he did to bring food to the pantry to feed the hungry.

Thank you for reading this article. Please refer it to your favorite social media network.

Please tell all your friends, relatives, neighbors about this concert.

Thank you

Thurman Greco

Woodstock, New York

10 Things You Can Do to Help the Homeless in Your Area

“Homeless is not a category of people. It’s just a situation that happens. It can happen to anyone.” – Salvador Altimarano-Segura

This article actually has eleven suggestions. There are many things we can all do for the homeless if we will open our hearts and minds to the many opportunities. Hopefully this list will inspire you!

ENCOURAGE affordable housing. Is someone in your area trying to build affordable housing? Support this effort. Fewer people would be homeless if more affordable housing were available.

DO YOU KNOW someone with a tight budget? Encourage him/her to visit a pantry regularly.

BARTER. As fewer and fewer people have money, barter is a good way to go.

SUPPORT BUSINESSES that treat their employees fairly. This means giving your business to companies that don’t short shift their workers, refuse to report their earnings to the IRS to avoid paying deductions, and/or withhold wages.

WORK TO SEE that schools in your area offer free universal school breakfasts and lunches for all.

BACKPACK PROGRAMS assure that children have food to eat over the weekend. Does your neighborhood school have one? If not, set one up.

DOES YOUR CHURCH, SYNAGOGUE, OR TEMPLE have a food pantry? Set one up.

GIVE GIFT CARDS FOR FOOD, GASOLINE (if they drive) or PHONE MINUTES. These cards are perfect gifts for someone on a tight budget. These cards are also perfect to be used for donations to a pantry or shelter, or soup kitchen.

OPEN A FOOD PANTRY in a college or trade school in your area. People don’t realize that homelessness is an issue with students.

GIVE A LITTLE THROUGHOUT THE YEAR by regularly donating food, money or gas cards to a homeless friendly pantry in your area.

TEACH! Do you have a skill to share? Contact a local shelter and offer to give classes.

Thanks for reading this article! Please refer it to your favorite social media network.

Thurman Greco
Woodstock, New YOrk

This was almost the last weekend.

There’s only one more weekend left at Mower’s Meadow Flea Market this year. I’ll be there the Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving and then that’ll be it for awhile. I understand the flea market doesn’t open weekends again until May.

Don’t quote me on that. I’m not sure. But, one thing I’m sure about: I plan to be there every weekend next season. The hunger book, the donation jar, and I plan to be at Mower’s Meadow Flea Market next season.

I was at a different spot at the flea market every weekend. And, I really enjoyed being there. The people at the other booths were friendly, open, and interested in my booth. I got many tips and tried them all. It was obvious to everyone that I really didn’t know much about flea market marketing. I still don’t know much but my booth presentation has definitely improved.

Thank you to each and every one who bought copies of “I Don’t Hang Out in Churches Anymore”. I doubt if “The Ketchup Sandwich Chronicles” will be available by then but I working on it every day.

The title “I Don’t Hang Out in Churches Anymore” was named by Cullen Thomas and it was well chosen. Many people who picked up the book on the table were bothered by the title because they didn’t understand it. However, it definitely attracted attention.

For those with questions, the title referred to an “unhoused” congregation serving people outside the sanctuary. And, the food pantry was definitely outside the boundary of the sanctuary. The food pantry was, in fact, in the basement.

This story isn’t about how to fix or save or change a church. Nor is it, really, a story about a church at all. In fact, it’s not a manual about anything. It’s a story about how I discovered hungry people in the basement of the building in a tiny food pantry in the corner room.

A memoir, this story tells the truth as I remember it.

If you haven’t had a chance to read this book, it’ll be available at thurmangreco.com during the winter unless I find an indoor weekend flea market that’s appropriate for a table of books and open on the weekend.

My goal is to offer Reiki therapy and tarot readings in addition to the books at the flea market in the future.

But, whether I offer Reiki and tarot or not, I plan to be at a table selling both “I Don’t Hang Out in Churches Anymore” and “Healer’s Handbook”. When “Ketchup Sandwich Chronicles” comes out, I’ll add it to the stack!

See you there!

Thurman Greco

Please refer this article to your preferred social media network.

It’s Food Drive Time!

This is the season for a food drive! It’s food drive time!

Food drives are important in the spring and early summer because food pantry shelves are depleted now.  Storerooms are empty.  The emptiness will continue from now until the fall.

It’s food drive time!

Food pantries everywhere are trying to build their stocks up for the worst month of the year:  August.

So, now is a really good time for you to put on your generous hat and donate food to your food pantry!  There are a couple of ways to do this.

You can clean out your kitchen shelves and give the food you know you are never going to use to a nearby food pantry.  That’s an easy, and tried-and-true way to donate food.  But, if you want to get creative, there are other ways to go about donating food to a food pantry.

Do you have a birthday or anniversary coming up?  Invite everyone you know to a party celebrating your birthday or anniversary and ask everyone to bring  food for a food pantry instead of a gift.

Have a food drive where you ask someone in a group you belong to for donations.  This can be pretty easy.  You can have a work food drive or a school food drive or a church group food drive.  It really doesn’t matter what the group is.  What matters is that you and a group of your co-workers get together and give food to a food pantry to feed hungry people.

When you are planning a food drive, don’t forget that pantries are in need of items of dignity.  Now might be a good time to hold an Item of Dignity drive.  People are always looking for toothbrushes, toilet paper, razors, tampons.

It’s a Miracle!

This article was written back in 2013 when we got Miriam’s Well up and running.  I’m sharing this event with you.

Enjoy!

Lord,

When we drive Miriam’s Well up to the apartment complex, children gather round.  Their mothers shop for food.

Lord, I’m so grateful for this truck.  It took us exactly thirty-four minutes to design Miriam’s Well at the meeting in my healing space.  It took us exactly two weeks to get her together.  This truck is a miracle, Lord.  When You work a miracle, You arrange for things to work perfectly.  I love the perfection of this plan!

We put food in the back of Miriam’s Well, take it to Woodstock Commons, Woodstock Meadows, to the grounds at St. Gregory’s, and over to Tongore Pines, where the people come to shop.

There are no long lines, Lord.  There are no waits.  People just come to Miriam’s Well, get the groceries they need, visit with one another, and go home to wherever or whatever that is, with the food they need.

Dignity, smiles, positive thoughts, uplifting events.  The whole scene is reminiscent of a time at a village well in a Bible story.  That’s why we named her Miriam’s Well.

Only You could have done this Lord.  You guided our hands, hearts, minds through the entire project.

How can we ever thank You enough Lord?

Amen

Thanks for reading this article!

Please refer this post to your favorite social media network.

P S – The manuscript has gone to the publisher.  I look forward to sharing this story with you in the coming weeks.  Thanks so much for your interest!

Thurman Greco

The Big Picture

Lord,

As I work in the pantry week after week, I encounter problems.

There is not enough food, not enough space for the food we have, and not enough time to feed the hungry.

There are too many hungry shoppers, too many cars in the parking lot, too many cases of fresh fruits and vegetables, and too many cardboard boxes.

And, as I listen to the car radio when I drive back and forth to Latham on Fridays, I’m aware that I, like those around me, am concerned with problems and challenges in my own small, personal universe.

You, Lord,  see the big picture.  You see everyone’s problems and issues.  You take everyone’s world and make it all work somehow.  What we have, as humans, is a stew.  You have us all together in this universal stewpot.  In the Army, Lord, there’s a name for it:  Mongolian Stew

You are beyond all of us in scope and size.  Somehow, you stoop down and get in the stewpot with all of us and get involved in our details as You take on our problems.

Through your vision and wisdom, You see the needs of everyone and You send us love, kindness, and miracles.  You take the troubles off our shoulders.

Help me Lord, surrender to Your kindness, love, wisdom.

Help me just give the pantry over to you 100%.  Help me turn the problems of the building, the hungry, the volunteers, the church, the community, over to you.  You do the perfect job of problem solving.  After all, you are the God to whom we all pray.

How can I do anything less?  When I do this, Lord, I’ll walk in love, with a strong heart, and a solid faith.  I’ll receive a spiritual awakening.  This will bring glory to you.

Amen

The manuscript for the memoir will go to the publisher on Tuesday, January 9th!  I’m ecstatic!  I’m excited!

Thank you for reading this blog post.  Please share it with your preferred social media network.

Thank you

Thurman Greco

Caring Hands

Kingston, New York is a rapidly gentrifying and trendy  trendy little town in New York State.   Almost every day I see new neighbors in this community.  They’ve found just the perfect weekend apartment and are ecstatically, euphorically furnishing it with just the perfect finds.  In short, they are in love with Kingston!

In their giddiness, they have may not have  yet noticed the Caring Hands Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen.  Or maybe they have.  Maybe they see that one of the most important  things about Kingston is that the residents care for one another.  This attitude helps make Kingston what it is – a community we all want to be part of.

2017 is turning out to be  a tough year for food pantries in general and Caring Hands Food Pantry in Kingston, New York in particular.  But, Caring Hands isn’t just a food pantry.  It’s a soup kitchen, and a warming center with a recovery and twelve-step program.  As if that’s not enough, they’ve got  a free legal clinic, too.

Volunteers at Caring Hands, under the direction of the Rev. Darlene L. Kelley at the Clinton Avenue Methodist Church, work hard as they put their beliefs into action daily.  Almost 600 meals are served weekly in the soup kitchen.  Over 3,000 households   receive groceries monthly.

Children, the elderly, families, veterans, and the ill are all welcome at Caring Hands.  The goal is to help people in need help themselves.  The message of God’s transforming love is spread throughout the community from the Clinton Avenue Methodist Church as it ripples out in waves.

It is easy for you to be a part of this message.  You don’t have to move to Kingston.  You don’t have to attend the church there.  You don’t even have to know anyone in the area.  All you need to do is give a little … or a lot … of whatever you can share.

  1.  Sending a check always helps.  Caring Hands always needs money.
  2.  Sending a gift certificate always helps, too.  Did someone give  you  a gift certificate that  that you’ll probably never use?  Well, now is a good time to use it.  Send it on over.
  3. Extra time is extremely valuable.  If you live in the area, you can be a part of this  miracle when you volunteer.  Your gift of presence will be greatly appreciated.
  4. Hold a food drive.  Gifts of food are always, always needed.  If you don’t live in the area, hold a food drive anyway and donate the cans and boxes of food to a food pantry in your area.
  5. Call an elected representative  and lobby for the poor and hungry in your area.  Persuade this elected official to be generous with funds for those around us who do not have everything they need to live a healthy life.
  6. Your prayers and kind thoughts are always welcome.  Those at Caring Hands as well as at other food pantries throughout our country are working hard to bring food and love to a broken community.  They need your support.

Caring Hands has a mailing address to send your check and/or  gift certificates:  CARING HANDS

c/o THE CLINTON AVENUE UMC

P. O. Box 1099

Kingston, New York 12402.

Thank you for reading this blog post.  Hopefully you’ll share it with your favorite social media outlet.

With this blog posted article comes an apology for not having posted often enough in the past months.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t care or that I’m no longer interested in hunger.  To the contrary.  I’m deeply involved in bringing my next book to my publisher.  And, it’s about hunger in America.

Thurman Greco

Another Year Has Begun Again

Another year has begun again.  (And, far too quickly, too.)

As I begin another year fighting hunger, God, my time with the pantry is in your hands.

Give me patience again, O God.  And let me remember that it’s my job to offer the best, most delicious, nutritious food I can find for the hungry.

It is not my job to end hunger.  Let me remember, God, that you have your own timetable.

As a year begins give me  wisdom and grace to serve the hungry with respect and honor…which they deserve.  Give me energy and strength to trust that those who have enough will continue to give so we will have the money to continue to feed the hungry as long as we need to.

Donations to the food bank have worked beautifully up to now, God.  Give me the strength to trust the system to work in the new year too.  Let me trust in the miracles of this system.

And, God, thank you for giving me comfort when I grow discouraged.  Forgive me for not being stronger.

Thank you for giving the money, volunteers, and resources the pantry needs to continue to feed the ever increasing number of people whose paychecks are not going up but their gasoline, rent, and food costs are rising.

Thank you for the miracles you give us daily.

I say these things in your name and with gratitude from the bottom of my heart, O God.

Amen

Thank you for reading this blog post!

Please refer this prayer to your favorite social media network.

This prayer is one of a series of entries I’m writing to go in a memoir about hunger.  It will be entitled “I Don’t Hang Out In Churches  Anymore – the story of hunger as told through prayer”.

Thurman Greco

A Holiday Gone Wrong

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“When we talk cooking and eating, we are talking love, since the entire history of how a family loves – when and how they learned to love – can be told in most kitchens.” – Marion Roach Smith

The first year a person uses a food pantry for primary shopping, Christmas is a holiday gone wrong.  After several years, Christmas becomes whatever the household can make of it.  The adjustment is, for some, difficult and for others more difficult.

The difficulty lies, mostly, in the ability to get food items considered “traditional” by a household when no money is available to purchase them in a grocery store.

Once, I heard some pantry shoppers talking in the line about holidays past.  Their conversation centered around people celebrating by eating too much delicious food and visiting  with relatives, friends, neighbors while swapping stories, catching up on the news.

For more and more people living in poverty, this just doesn’t happen.  Both households and individuals find themselves unable to finance the expense of the holiday event.

Not only can they not afford the food, more and more people no longer have the table to sit at, the chairs to sit on, and the stove to cook the food.  Recipes, pots and pans, china, silverware, crystal are long since gone.  Eating without a kitchen is the way of the modern household living on a minimum wage.

With luck, today’s struggling class household will have the gas to get the car to a soup kitchen.  Otherwise, it’s going to be a regular day with a meal prepared in a crock pot, or on a hot plate.  The economic situation for some is that just to take the day off and still be able to buy groceries the next day is more a goal than anything else.

Realities faced by the hungry pantry shopper weigh on my shoulders every day of the year.  This weight keeps me squirreling away food so the pantry shelves can be stocked for celebrations with canned soup, canned gravy, potatoes, stuffing mix, canned green beans, cranberry sauce, chicken broth and all the fruits and vegetables that can be gotten at food drives and the food bank.  Storeroom space and a few freezers at the food pantry are essential.

Pantry volunteers have a difficult time just keeping up with the ever increasing client census.  Those with a stable shopper base, a large storeroom and connections can begin scrounging in  July to set aside food.  It’s extremely challenging to get several hundred or a thousand of an item in the summer and store the food until December.

After several years and several holidays, the food gatherer in the household becomes, if time allows, more skilled at scrounging for food in both the pantry and the grocery store.  The difficulty lies, mostly, in the ability to get food items considered “traditional” by a household when no money is available to purchase the items in a supermarket.

While distributing food, I mentally predict who’s going to be successful at scrounging and gathering by the sound of the automobile as it’s driven into the parking lot of the pantry.   A successful holiday dinner depends on a working automobile, time available between jobs, and the energy to sustain the search.

Transportation challenges, disabilities, and serious illness in the family can defeat all efforts.

Thank you for reading this article.

Please share this story with your preferred social media network.

Thurman Greco

Woodstock, NY

Book Update:  “A Healer’s Handbook” has been published and is available on Nook and Kindle!  It will be available in the paper version in early January.  If you order it now, it will be mailed directly to you upon publication.

More information about this book can be found on Thurmangreco.com.

Publication of “The Unworthy Hungry” is now scheduled for January 2018.

Thank you for your support and your patience.  Now that “Healer’s Handbook” has been published, there will be more frequent and regularly published articles on all blogs.

Thanks Again

Ho Hum – Just Another Miracle

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No question about it, miracles do happen.  Maybe you don’t believe in miracles.  I do.  I was in denial for the longest time.  But, after awhile, I had to face reality.  There were simply too many coincidences:

One September pantry day a few years ago the lines were longer than usual and the shelves were emptying out fast.  “I think we’re going to run out of food” I mentioned under my breath to Marie Duane, a volunteer from St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church.

“Do we have a plan for this kind of event?” I asked myself.

Then, to quote the Reverend Mike Huckabee, “God showed up.”

I know this statement is  applicable here because  the moment I began muttering under my breath, it was  as if someone had blown a whistle.  A red haired woman drove up in a tan SUV filled with bags and bags of food she collected from Congregation Agudas Achim in Kingston.  Harriet Kazansky unloaded enough canned and boxed food to get us through the day with some food left over!

One December, the Wednesday after Christmas, to be exact, John Mower drove up with a car trunk filled with canned vegetables for the pantry.  What a gift!  Our pantry was completely bare that December.  Then, the next day, along came another trunk load.  He finally quit after three trips to the pantry.  He filled the shelves for the next pantry day.

One Tuesday morning in the pantry, Peggy Johnson was upset because she didn’t have enough food to prepare the take out bags for the fourteen families she delivered food to every week.  Food had been scarce and this week the take out area seemed  empty.  A large man suddenly walked in the door carrying an extremely large box filled with canned and boxed food.  A Kingston fireman who grew up in the Woodstock area, he made Peggy promise to never reveal his name.  However, she didn’t have to keep his gift a secret:  in one trip down the pantry hallway, carrying a box large enough to hold everything needed, he single handedly provided all the food for the home bound families that week.  Our pantry has never heard from him since.

In the pantry hallway, we had an Item of Dignity closet.  where shoppers could take a roll of toilet paper and one other item each time they shopped.  We were forbidden by the building committee to have clothing in this closet.

One Wednesday afternoon I noticed a pair of new boots.  I have no idea where they came from.  They certainly didn’t come in disguised as deodorant or shampoo.  Anyway, Prasida needed a pair of winter boots.  One of the volunteers took them off the shelf.

“Prasida, can you wear wear these boots?”  Prasida came over to the closet, looked them over, and put them on.

“Ahhh – a perfect fit!  Thank you Amma!  Now I won’t have cold feet this winter in my summer sandals.”

At one point, I was reading Doreen Virtue’s book “Archangels and Ascended Masters”.  One night I read about Saint Therese, also known as the Little Flower.  The story goes that if one prays to St. Therese, she will send a rose as a sign that the request has been heard.  The next day, I found a rose on the pantry floor as I walked into the room.

But, the real miracle happened repeatedly in the pantry as the shoppers and volunteers both began to heal and change and grow from the community, their commitment, and the experiences in the pantry.  When people first started coming to the pantry, either to volunteer or shop, they were focused inward on their own problems, issues, health.  After a short time, they began to focus on their friends in the pantry.  They became concerned about something bigger than themselves and their private struggles.

In short…they became new.

Thanks for reading this blog/book.  The stories are true.  The people are real.

Please share this article with your preferred social network.

The book is still in progress!  It’s going to happen!