Mission: Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen is located in the heart of Chelsea in New York City. What started as a temporary feeding program in 1982 has now become the largest in the tri-state area, and we've served over 7 million meals since then - but the real story is how we help guests move off the soup kitchen line into employment, their own homes, and a more manageable and fulfilling way of life. Not only do we provide a hot meal to over 1,200 New Yorkers in need every single day, our dedicated counseling staff also work with our guests to connect them with benefits, housing and job interviews. No one is ever turned away from our door.
Results: The soup kitchen has never missed a serving day in thirty years, despite hurricanes, blizzards, transit shutdowns and terrorist attacks. On our very first day we served 34 meals - now we serve upwards of 1,200 every day. We have expanded our programs to respond to the changing needs of our guests, and today we offer counseling, referrals, healthcare and enrichment services, as well as a seasonal Writers' Workshop that showcases the creative abilities of our guests and volunteers. On average our counselors hold individual daily sessions with over 1,500 guests per month, providing them with vital assistance and advice:
"I didn't know I could get retirement benefits. Caroline showed me that, and made the application for me. The money came through just as I was about to lose my apartment. If it wasn't for Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, I'd be on the streets now." - Jose, former soup kitchen guest
"I didn't want to go to a soup kitchen, but I had nowhere else to turn. It was nothing like I expected - everyone made me feel so welcome, like I was coming home. I had this feeling I hadn't had in a long time. I felt at peace. I knew we were going to make it no matter what. " - Susan, mother of five
I have been a parishioner at Holy Apostles for more than a decade and am now a member of the vestry. The church has a deep-felt commitment to the Soup Kitchen because we believe it reflects God's commandment: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. I have personally known people who came to the Soup Kitchen for help and have since gone on to regain jobs, housing and healthcare because there was a place for them to come that would give them support when their lives had gone awry. I will never forget the smart, talented woman who had been a journalist who had a nervous breakdown and was putting her life back together, or the hard working mother of three beautiful children who was escaping a bad marriage. Both got back on their feet because they felt they were not only given a meal at the Soup Kitchen, but the kind of love and support they were lacking in the rest of their lives.
I served on the Vestry of the Church of the Holy Apostles for six years, and the past four years as Warden of the Parish. The Soup Kitchen is our primary outreach program. The sense of community that includes so many beyond our small membership is an amazing thing. The coming together of our many generous benefactors, dedicated staff, and hard-working volunteers, along with a fascinating and ever-growing group of guests, provides a living metaphor of the holy meal we remember at each Eucharist.