November 25, 2010
It's Thanksgiving Day! Its a wonderful feast! Time to be with family and friends to realize how blessed we are. No decorations, no made shopping (except for the food!) - just time spent with good people. Hopefully we spend the day paying a bit more attention than usual counting our blessings. I know that after a wonderful week at The Center giving out over 300 thanksgiving baskets filled with food donated by so many people and watching our volunteers make it all happen, I know that I have so much to give thanks for! The Center happens because of the goodness of so many.
Of course we also realize when we count our blessings that there are so many who have so much less than we do. We know that there are folks who are homeless this day or at best live in places that are difficult to call "home". We know that there are those who don't know where to find the food to feed their families. We know that there are those whose lives are filled with fear, worry, uncertainty.
And so we include them in our thoughts this day - we give thanks that there are places that will feed the hungry this day - that there are those who by their generosity bless those in need.
We move now into the busy holiday season - let's keep our eyes, our ears, our hearts focused on our blessings and our ability to bless others.
September 25, 2010
A rainy day - almost a hint of the fall that will come upon us soon. But its probably a tease and we'll be sweltering in the heat again! The summer has been an active one for The Center in Asbury Park and Center House. As always the generosity of so many makes it possible to serve the folks we are dedicated to. Our volunteers change a bit in the summer. Some of our regulars travel a bit and are absent but then there are the college kids or others who have time and share some of it with us.
We had a few wonderful opportunities to meet some new people through some summer events. Summer Lights which took place on August 14 was a fabulous affair! Carlos Hatch and Brian OHea opened their beautiful home for a festive party that brought some new people into our lives - and raised a lot of needed funds! The Mayor's Cool Out Jazz Evening, The Imperial Court at Paradise, Broadway...by the Sea were also events which not only raised some funds but helped us to share our Mission with others. And now soon, on September 11, we'll gather at Blackberry Bay for some music, some fireworks and some fun. Join us! Click here for information.
And so its been busy....but good. At Center House we've had three of our residents move out and move on but we have three more in the wings waiting to be approved for an apartment. While its always sad to see the folks leave us, we do get attached to them!, its exciting to welcome someone new.
And of course, as is to be expected, we have a couple of residents who are struggling with some serious health issues. But its wonderful to see how the residents look our for one another and to know that in their fragile state they are not alone.
June 25, 2010
Summer is certainly upon us. Sweltering heat and bright sun. Its good to be near the beach! And its BBQ season. A few weeks ago we had a wonderful backyard BBQ to thank our many volunteers. Over 85 people showed up and ate, drank and got to know one another better. The Monday volunteers met the Friday volunteers, etc. And at The Center our volunteer chefs are using the grill a lot. Our residents and our folks who come to lunch each day are enjoying some summer treats from the grill.
Our residents have a "Resident Council" that meets monthly to discuss living at Center House. Recently they held elections and are working on a set of By-Laws. Their meeting this week caused all sorts of excitement. They had the best turnout for a meeting ever and are making plans for a car-wash to raise some funds for a trip to Great Adventure. They are proud of their accomplishments - and rightly so!
Now that Center a la Carte has happened - a wonderful night - we get geared up for The Jersey Shore AIDS Walk. The weatherman says it will be a near perfect May Day! The Walk is not only another opportunity to raise some necessary funds but is also a great time to be together, to connect with others involved in the Mission of The Center and to let others know about The Center. On a beautiful Asbury Day there will be strollers on the boardwalk who will see us carrying signs that remind them and all of us that "We are Walking for Friends."
Aprill 8, 2010
Feeling of summer in the air! Today we'll have our "Day of Reflection" for volunteers at Stella Maris Retreat House in Elberon. It will be a great day to be by the Ocean - and a good day to spend some time musing a bit about why we do what we do - what our relationship is with the folks who walk in the door for lunch or just a cup of coffee. Our volunteers come from a diverse background - retirees, college students, folks who just have some time and want to be here. What is always amazing is the levels of interaction and the different personalities that make up the mix. And of course adding to the mix is the different personalities of the clients, the folks we serve. Its quite a mix - and with rare exception it is a picture of collaboration!
The temperature is in the sixties - the sun is shining. A great day for the St. Pat's Parade! Finally we have a real hint of Spring. But only a short while ago we we shivering in the cold and tredging through the drifts! This past blast of a winter really was a reminder, a wake-up, an underlining, in a way of what we do, why we spend our time here at The Center. On a number of those days when everything closed down - some things just closed down in anticipation of what was to come - a few of us were able to walk to The Center, to open the doors and just be here in case someone needed something. Most of the volunteers couldn't get through due to the roads and the simple danger of being out. Some just couldn't dig out! But on each of those days we'd have at least 10 or 15 folks who walked in the streets to come in. We had some hot coffee - we had some warm soup (thanks to the Cheescake Factory!) some bread - just some warmth. Personally on the reallyl stormy days I enjoyed being a bit "snowed in". But I live in luxury! I have everything I need and am safe. But some of our folks live in rooms or in places that are cold and drafty. One guy just said he couldn't stand being cooped up in his place - he braved the weather to get to us hopeing that we'd be open. The Center, their "living room" is a haven. The cold blasts of winter reminded us how blessed it is to be able to open the door, to welcome our folks, to ladle out some soup, to let them find some warmth. And the result is that we are nourished - we get warmer - we experience this very special community.