Persons with no fixed address live in what some refer to as an “invisible world”. With your help, they may not be stuck there. Making their day-to-day lives a bit easier is helpful and important. There ARE things you can do.
This list of ten things to do may seem a little bizarre to you. But, a List of Shelters is very different from a List of Food Pantries or Soup Kitchens.
If you take this list seriously and use some of the suggestions, you’ll understand.
But, whether you try to do one item or all ten, I send you gratitude. The things you do will ripple kindness out beyond your circle. And, right now, kindness is needed desperately.
DEVELOP A LIST OF SHELTERS
Search out local shelters and create a list card. List each shelter by location and include phone numbers and a bit of information which may be helpful to those without addresses.
Distribute copies of this card to homeless people.
MAKE A LIST OF FOOD PANTRIES
A homeless-friendly food pantry distributes ready-to-eat items like peanut butter and crackers in individual packets, cereal and milk in individual containers. Some food pantries offer small containers of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Search out area food pantries that are homeless friendly. Make an info card listing hours and days each pantry is open. Include the phone number, address and directions to get there.
Distribute copies of this card.
INCLUDE A LIST OF SOUP KITCHENS
Search out area soup kitchens. Make an info card listing hours and days each soup kitchen is open. Include the phone number and address with directions to find it.
Carry copies of this card to distribute.
Organizations serving the homeless always need gently used items in good condition. They need items in all sizes from infant to XXL and beyond.
Blankets and sleeping bags are in demand year round.
People are always asking for socks.
Because the homeless carry their kitchens in their pockets, their food needs are specific: peanut butter and crackers in individual containers, individual packets of vegetables and fruits to be eaten raw (such as strawberries or carrots), cereal packed in individual containers, milk packed in individual containers.
When someone in your community conducts a food drive, donate a bag full of homeless-friendly foods.
If no one is having a food drive, fill a grocery bag with food and take it to your local food pantry, shelter, or soup kitchen.
Better yet, hold a food drive yourself.
In the past I’ve blogged posts about holding a food drive. Several dates of these posts include May 3, 2018, January 13, 2021 – February 11, 2021 – February 25, 2021. There are others.
Food drives are not difficult and they can be fun. Everyone should have the experience. Email me if you have questions. email@example.com
VOLUNTEER AT A SHELTER
Shelters depend on volunteers to sign people in, and cook and serve meals. Depending on the resources of the shelter, you may be able to do other things such as helping kids with homework, teaching ESL classes, writing resumes.
VOLUNTEER AT A SOUP KITCHEN
Soup kitchen volunteers pick up donations of food, help prepare and serve meals, cleaning up at the end of the shift.
VOLUNTEER AT A FOOD PANTRY
Volunteering at a food pantry is a community experience. I did it for years. Never, at any moment, did I feel I was wasting my time.
SHARE A MEAL
Whenever you leave your home, bring a bagged meal to share with a person on the street.
When you do a few of the things on this short list, you will find yourself involved in your community, even if that was not your intention.
Your interest in hunger and homelessness automatically makes you an advocate – even if you don’t think you are. When you help feed hungry and homeless people, you are fighting hunger in our country.
Most people in food pantries distribute a 3-day supply of food to everyone in each household.
But, however you see yourself, your good work, kindness, and generosity will ripple out beyond yourself and your community.
One thing is for sure, we need more good work, kindness, and generosity rippling out.
Something else happens when you share info cards, bagged lunches, food, and sleeping bags:
The homeless people you interact with begin to lose their invisibility. You replace that invisibility with respect when you treat them as individuals. Courtesy, kind words and a smile will change not only your life but theirs. .
You may even learn someone’s name!
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If you are a Reiki practitioner, “HOPE on the ROAD” is easy to learn so you can present it to people in your area.
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Think back to the time when you were a child. Life was probably less complicated then. Occasionally your parents or grandparents or maybe a school teacher, or a rabbi, priest, or pastor had talks with you about life.
Your mother, father, grandmother, teacher may have spoken about sex, money, God, doing right from wrong, not stealing. These talks were important.
Well, now you are an adult with your own life. Consciously or unconsciously, these early life talks shaped you and still influence you to this day. The reality is that the person who took the time and effort to make you a successful adult may now be in need of a talk. It’s entirely possible that this older person of influence to you is quietly doing without the food necessary to lead a healthy life.
Why is this happening?
Well, there may simply be more days in the month than money. Many seniors in our country have outlived their pensions, savings, ability to hold down a job. Statistics tell us that one senior in seven doesn’t get enough to eat. SNAP is one successful way to help seniors.
Seniors are eligible for SNAP.
If you are a senior, please apply for these benefits. You worked all your life, paid your taxes, contributed to the economy. It’s time to benefit from all the contributions you made throughout your life.
SNAP helps pay for the food you need to live a healthy life. When you eat healthier food, you can prevent and control some chronic health issues. This will lower your medical bills.
When you get groceries with SNAP, you’ll have money for other things you need.
SNAP is a debit card offering privacy. That way, if you don’t want anyone to know you receive SNAP, they won’t.
When you use SNAP, your community benefits. This is because you bring money into your local economy which helps farmers, grocers, and local businesses.
When you receive SNAP, you are not taking money away from someone else who might need it more. There are enough SNAP dollars for everyone.
Apply for SNAP at your local Department of Social Services office.
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The website, www.Thurmangreco.com lists books which give more information. You can also purchase T-shirts, aprons, and other items to support alleviating hunger in America.
The food pantry community included massage therapists, Reiki practitioners and other healers in the line. At one point, I taught Reiki therapy to volunteers and attuned them to Reiki. Laren was among the students in the volunteer class.
Reiki is health care for the soul. The pantry could definitely use this jewel!
Reiki changes people’s lives and she was no exception. For most Reiki practitioners, the change is slow, subtle, gentle. Some aren’t even aware of anything happening.
I knew Laren’s response to Reiki was exceptional in the first fifteen minutes of the Reiki I class. She took the Reiki 2 class. She took the Reiki 3 class. Several months went by and she took one of my advanced classes.
Well, Laren could have taught that class hands down. Every subject I brought up was one she had experienced. Laren went on to become a Reiki Master Teacher and now attunes her own students.
Laren dropped by the pantry monthly and offered Reiki to the building. I felt the energy shift as she invoked the ChoKuRei, the SeiHeKi, and the HonShaZeShoNen in the pantry room and the hallway.
Laren offered Reiki to the building as people rushed around the hallway, bathroom, and the pantry room, cleaning everything after the pantry closed and before we had to leave the building. No one paid attention to Laren calling in the symbols as she walked around the rooms.
This was energetic healing at work.
She gave particular attention to the corners of the rooms. Reiki energy transformed the pantry into a holy space, erasing the toxic fear of hunger so prevalent in the hallway and the pantry room.
The floors, walls, corners, became holy.
Fear of hunger wasn’t the only issue. Fear of job loss, illness, and fear for the children were common in the pantry. Fear was often palpable.
Reiki therapy is a spiritual wand touching those around us who need blessings and healing.
Reiki practitioners know that when the time is right, Reiki takes on a life of its own, offering healing where it’s needed, using energy which passes through the practitioner’s hands.
Using Reiki, we align ourselves with our divine order to extend blessings.
When I am in the grocery line, or the traffic line, or on a sidewalk, or on a massage table, the space becomes holy when I invite Reiki in.
Reiki heals through chakra points located throughout the body. In a Reiki session, the recipient is reminded who she is. This self-awareness opens the chakra portals for the person to become who she can be.
The future blends with the present and the past at this moment. Possibilities open. This is a miraculous process.
Reiki is a holy ritual. It’s hard to get too much of this divine energy because Reiki is all-loving and all-giving. Reiki wisdom guides the practitioner’s hands during a session to the points of divine connection on the body. Reiki shows us the meaning of life and the teachings understand the sacredness of this process.
Reiki is a jewel not bound by earthly things.
No wonder there are no contraindications to Reiki therapy.
Reiki is a light touch applied to a clothed body. When offering Reiki therapy, I often began a session applying this light touch to the crown of my client’s head.
After three or four minutes, I moved my hands to the occipital ridge at the base of the skull.
There, I placed one hand on the base of the skull and the other hand on the back of the neck. After a few short minutes, I placed my hands on the person’s body, following the lines of the person’s chakras along the spine.
As I placed my hands on the recipient, healing energy traveled up and down the chakras, beginning at the head and ending on the feet. I felt warmth, tingling.
Sometimes I saw images and color while the recipient lay in a sleeplike state on a healing table. Whether or not the word “sleeping” was correct, the person was usually not conscious.
Chakras are the communication system of the body. Chakras share information with one another as they physically, intuitively, energetically, and psychically communicate with one another.
They also talk with chakras in other bodies as well. There is no limit to how chakras communicate.
The pantry visits themselves were healing because the pantry experience healed. When shoppers and volunteers healed from the experience, they saw things in new ways.
When this healing happened, it made the person new.
In this new inner life and outer life, the person moved forward in ways impossible before.
Pantry volunteers served shoppers, volunteers, hungry people.
Distributing groceries all those afternoons in the pantry brought forgiveness and healing.
Fresh vegetables, eggs, and Bread Alone bread offered a healing experience with abundance. As volunteers fed the shoppers, they helped both themselves and each other. Did you want to be healed? Healing and feeding were connected.
The pantry was a safe haven for everyone, both volunteers and shoppers. Healing began and continued as people shared food. This safe haven was necessary because the unspoken word here was the feeling that we were the wrong people.
Unspoken here was the feeling that one’s status in Woodstock could make things right. Without the right status, a person would never be acceptable.
Health issues pointed to a need to cope with spiritual challenges. Healing was on the agenda and getting well was something everyone sought.
In the end, healing was not easy. Before the trip was over and a person felt healed, she experienced many things: acceptance, belief, change, connection, forgiveness, laughter, persistence, and transcendence.
For me, this was amazing. How can a person in a pantry line experience connection? How can a person in a pantry forgive others? The path is simply too rocky.
For some, it was giving up anger, drugs, or a lifestyle that changed when the house was in foreclosure.
Giving and receiving food brought everyone a little peace.
The whole experience was hard for people in the line who were unemployed, broken down psyhologically, economically, socially, spiritually, and physically,
As I watched healing in action, I saw patterns. First came forgiveness which made the healing easier. For sure, healing was harder when a person held a grudge.
The pantry visits themselves were healing. The pantry experience healed. When shoppers and volunteers healed from the experience, they saw things in new ways. This healing, made the person new.
In this new inner life and outer life the person moved forward in ways impossible before.
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It’s easier than you think.
Choose the food pantry, homeless shelter, school, church, food bank, or soup kitchen to receive the food you collect.
Contact your recipient, and learn what items the hungry people need. Try to be specific. Can they only accept canned food items or can they use frozen and fresh foods? What about pet food?
If they need pet food or food for homeless people, for example, request those items (with specific food item suggestions) at your drive.
Decide how you want to collect the donated food.
The method I prefer is, of course, the one that worked for me several times. I recommend this method:
Gather some large empty grocery bags in good condition.
Attach a letter to each one saying something like:
“We are having a food drive in this neighborhood. Please fill this bag with food and set it out on your entryway on ………………………….. when it will be picked up between 00:00 and 00:00. Include am and pm to be more specific.
We need the following kinds of food:……………………..
Your donated food will be donated to ……………………………… Thank you for your generosity. If you have any questions, please call…………………………………. Signed…………………………………….”
Set the bags out at every address in the area you selected.
On the appointed date, return to the addresses and pick up the bags of food.
Deliver them to the selected food pantry, homeless shelter, school.
Pat yourself on your back. You did a great job!
My experience with this food drive method is that people respond positively because you give them bags, tell them exactly what food items you need, and return to pick up the food at a specific time on an exact date.
Thank you in advance for all you are doing to feed your neighbors.
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Have a wonderful day!
A food pantry is what it is because of three things:
the economic situation at the moment
the people who shop there.
The people come together looking for groceries but often, they want and need far more.
While the coronavirus pandemic rages, the food pantry lines get longer every pantry day because people, families, deal with change they didn’t ask for.
In short, they are rewriting their destiny stories without a road map or instructions.
A number of the people in the pantry, both shoppers and volunteers, didn’t know about food pantries until circumstances set up a situation where they suddenly looked around a room and realized where they were.
There is a name for their category – SITUATIONAL POOR.
A person fits into the situational poor category when s/he lands in a situation created by an event such as a hurricane, fire, floor, pandemic, or other disaster which destroys the home, car, job.
Pantries offer much – peace, community, spiritual connection, groceries. I always think of a food pantry in the basement of a church as a cross between a church service and a busy pizza place.
A food pantry, and those connected with it, are not a program. They are a community. As volunteers, all we really do is open the door. As all the hungry people walk through the door, they undergo a change somehow.
Each person in a pantry, in whatever capacity, has experienced rejection in some way – too young, too old, too crazy, too sick, too poor, not poor enough.
The food pantry experience does not heal a person, nor does it change the story.
The food pantry experience does not offer therapy.
The food pantry is, instead, a conduit for each person’s own healing.
FOOD PANTRY RULES
Sign your name in the register as you enter the pantry.
Find a place in line.
Do not crowd or block the door to the pantry room.
No more than 2 shoppers are allowed in the pantry at one time.
No more than one new shopper is allowed in the pantry at one time.
Shop for a three-day supply of food for everyone in your household.
Place your selections on the table as you shop.
Respect the restrictions on certain foods.
Finish your shopping in 10 minutes.
Once you begin to bag your groceries, do not continue to shop.
Because the food availability is different each time you shop, it is best to visit the food pantry weekly.
P.S. The rules may be different at the pantry where you shop. Each food pantry is different. The space is different. The times the pantry is open is different. The management is different.
These specific rules were used in the food pantry I managed where the people were many, the space small, and the hours few.
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December 21st is the Winter Solstice for 2020.
The Winter Solstice is the annual celebration of the yearly rebirth of the sun.
Please take a few moments today to send healing, acceptance, regeneration, and rebirth to all living beings – both plant and animal.
Visualize a world in which all living beings have enough food and water to nourish themselves into wellness in 2021.
Take a moment to release those things which no longer positively serve our planet and its inhabitants.
Find a few minutes sometime today to reflect on our planetary needs. Reflect on how it will feel to live on a healthy planet where all beings experience wellness and coexist to honor and support one another.
Thank you for your healing thoughts and prayers.
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There aren’t many books about there about hunger in America. Whenever I think of books about food pantries, the first writer I think of Sara Miles.
Well, it turns out that Sara Miles has a special friend, a writer friend.
I found Anna Woofenden’s book, “This is God’s Table” by accident on a table at the Barnes and Noble store in Kingston, New York. If only I could give copies of Anna Woofenden’s book to everyone. And, I mean everyone, including you.
Anna Woofenden started a Garden Church without walls in a vacant lot on 6th Street in San Pedro, California.
Anna placed a cedar stump table in the center of her worship space and consecrated it when she anointed it with oil.
From that moment, people joined her as they gardened, worshiped, and ate together weekly. All were welcome at God’s Table.
Whenever everyone is welcome, they all come. This welcoming, worshiping, and eating together attracts the old and the young, the housed and unhoused, the rich and the poor, and everyone in between.
I invite you to get a copy of Anna Woofenden’s book, “This is God’s Table”, and read it.
You can connect with her at https://www.AnnaWoofenden.com.
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Paul has been on my mind all week.
One of my oldest friends, I knew him and worked with him when I worked and lived in Virginia – just outside Washington D.C.
Back then, we had Kelly Girls. Paul was my very best Kelly Girl. I could send him anywhere – well, not to the male chauvinist lawyer who would only pay for a cute legal secretary. But all the others loved his work.
He showed up on time for his assignments and he turned out a perfect work product. He was a bargain. Whatever he did, he made the client feel that Paul gave more than the money’s worth for every job done.
Everyone knew Paul was homeless. Nobody cared. He was the best typist out there. (This was before computers, you understand.) A quality work product counts for a lot when it comes time to pay the bill, after all.
So why have I been thinking about Paul all week? It was the Duct Tape that did it. My watch band broke and I need the watch. I drove over to Genter’s Jewelry Store in Saugerties and discovered a “for rent” sign where the “open” sign used to be. Mr. Genter always fixed everything . He didn’t care whether it was a watch band, a clock, a necklace.
He also sold silver and gold chains at bargain prices. And, he custom designed a coin for me. His work was exacting. Genter’s was my go-to destination for all things jewelry.
Genter’s is a statistic of the Coronavirus. With Mr. Genter gone, what was I going to do? I physically grieved when I saw the sign in the window.
I went straight for the Duct Tape. I now wear a watch held together with Duct Tape. I’m getting used to it, actually. My sense of urgency diminishes a little more each day.
I’m sure I’ll get along just fine with the Duct Tape. Paul Did.
Duct Tape adorned most of Paul’s clothes and anything else he used. Duct Tape held Paul’s shoes together. Duct Tape held the watch on Paul’s arm. Duct tape even kept Paul’s eyeglasses going. Finally, Duct Tape held Paul’s winter coat together.
So, following in Paul’s example, Duct Tape will keep my fitness watch going.
I rather like my new Duct Tape look. And, I like remembering Paul. He always made me smile. And, smiles these days are hard to come by.
Thanks Paul! You set a good example. This Duct Tape will work until I can find Mr. Genter, just as Duct Tape held your shoes together until you could find a newer used pair of shoes.
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Woodstock, New York
PS: You can order one or more of the fancy T-shirts pictured in this post today at :
I also wrote about Paul in “No Fixed Address.”
Miracles happened in the food pantry. It took me a while to realize this and then it took another while to accept that such a thing could happen in the basement of a small town church in Upstate New York.
I sneaked miracle stories in on the blog posts. I sneaked them on the pages of “I Don’t Hang Out in Churches Anymore”. Finally, I gave them their own pages – as much as I had the nerve for anyway, in a short book “Miracles”.
Research on miracles taught me some things.
I learned that miracles often include weeping statues, broken legs healing straight, relics, stigmata, and visions. The pantry miracles included none of those things.
Our miracles never really cured anyone. I never saw a statue weep, and no one came down with stigmata.
Instead, they showed us all how to grow and love and forgive. It was giving away the food that was the tip off for me.
As far as I can tell, the food pantry miracles were not the result of prayer.
God just showed up and brought food. Once he came disguised as a fireman. Each miracle was a complete surprise, a unique and different event. God came when the pantry shelves were bare and the lines were long.
I don’t think the miracles proved that any of the shoppers or volunteers were more faithful than anybody else in town. Frankly, I think that some of us saw the miracles as coincidences or something.
However they were seen, these events made an impact on a small number of people who saw them as they happened.
The clincher for me occurred when I finally realized and accepted a few basic things:
Carloads of food never showed up when we didn’t need it.
Boots never appeared on the shelves disguised as toothpaste in the summertime.
Nobody ever brought a handful of nails to fix the barn when the wall wasn’t falling.
Two books appeared on my desk out of the ethers: “Miracles” by Tim Stafford and “Looking for a Miracle” by Joe Nickell gave a feeling of legitimacy to my thoughts and memories.
Because of Tim Stafford, I wrote my book entitled “Miracles”. He was direct about a few things – one of them being that people should not spread “miracle gossip”. Because of his feelings about what he called “miracle gossip”, I’m compelled to relate the pantry miracle stories.
To sneak them in blog posts does not do them justice.
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Starving Seniors? Food insecure seniors? Are those terms too harsh?
Let’s ratchet them down: hungry.
Or maybe: food insecure. Yeah, that’s better. It sounds better anyway.
Call it what you want, the event is the same. It’s your grandmother or grandfather (or me…I’m certainly a grandmother) caught in a situation where there’s simply not enough food in the house. They are food insecure.
In these times, we seniors living on Social Security are finding ourselves routinely choosing between food and medicine, food and transportation.
I have two friends who daily hitch rides to the grocery store because their cars don’t work any more. Here, in the middle of this health crisis, they are in a desperate situation not of their making. Everyone is trying to shelter in place, wear face masks and gloves, practice social distancing, and find a friend to help get food.
Walking to a store is totally out for one: her hip and knee replacements won’t allow it. And, we’re not supposed to be out in public anyway.
And, how can a person buy a used car these days anyway? And, when the car gives up the ghost, how will we get to work? Yes, I know lots of seniors who are figuring out ways to bring in $$$.
The issues with seniors and food insecurity are serious because when seniors no longer have $$$ to buy the food they need for nutrition or when they can no longer buy the medicines they need, they become ill and finally end up being cared for by their children or they end up in a nursing home.
I know many stories about:
The senior in Woodstock living on mashed potatoes.
The older woman in Bearsville who ended up in a nursing home when her take-out food pantry cut her off and she couldn’t get to a grocery store.
The older man who lacks $$$ for enough food and is slowly starving.
There is food available:
If they can get to a food pantry or If they can find a pantry offering takeout
If they can sign up for SNAP (food stamps).
If they have the strength to deal with long lines and frazzled volunteers.
I spoke recently with a retired man I know:
“Richard, do you get SNAP?”
“Why, Richard? SNAP is usually easy to get. All you have to do is apply.”
“Well, I’m getting by without it. Let someone else, needier than me, get the $$$ Besides, I hear the lines are outrageous.”
“Richard, think about getting SNAP. This is a benefit you paid for. Why leave $$$ on the table?”
The barriers to SNAP for seniors are great. Seniors resist going to a pantry, soup kitchen, getting SNAP until they simply cannot resist any longer. I know the feeling. People in my age category grew up and entered adulthood feeling that if we worked hard and paid our taxes, we would end up okay. We worked all our lives with this attitude and now that we’re retired…there simply isn’t enough.
When this happens, we feel inadequate and blame ourselves. “I must have done something wrong. Here I am living hand-to-mouth. I don’t even have enough $$$ for food. What did I do wrong?”
We are a whole generation of people blaming ourselves. I feel like we’re really not totally to blame for being food insecure.
I tell myself the rules have changed. This pandemic has shifted everything. Because we’re retired, we’re not in the rules-making game anymore.
Whatever happened to the Grey Panthers?
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