Having helped at Mercy meals has changed my outlook. Very Heroic men in my opinion?
“There are folks in this city who subsist on one meal a day, patiently waiting in line at a soup kitchen for lunch.
Three city ministers grappled with this dilemma and decided to take a leap of faith.
Without funding in place, they came to the aid of the city’s poor by launching Mercy Meals and More, offering a free breakfast from 7 to 8 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays to anyone who walked through the door of the Pilgrim Church Home at the corner of Purchase and School streets in downtown New Bedford.
To date, they have served more than 6,000 breakfasts.
For their tireless efforts and compassion for the poor, the Rev. David Hammett, the Rev. Russ Chamberlain and the Rev. David Soto are the 2010 Standard-Times Men of the Year for New Bedford.
Nominations for the award came from the community and members of the newspaper staff. Recipients were selected by a newsroom committee.
“We realized these people weren’t eating,” said Hammett, president of the Mercy Meals and More board of directors and pastor of Pilgrim United Church of Christ. “We are still working on funding, but decided to offer a breakfast program believing that God had called us to this important work in the here and now.”
Hammett credits Soto as the spark that ignited the ministers and a host of volunteers to undertake Mercy Meals and More.
Soto, vice president of the board and pastor of Clear Vision Christian Congregation, said God was calling them to offer breakfast for their needy neighbors.
The members of three city churches — Pilgrim, Clear Vision and the New Bedford Cape Verdean Seventh-day Adventist Church — jumped on board, becoming partners and offering their support.
“I hooked up with these two guys, they took me in, and it’s just been a blessing from then on,” Soto said.
Chamberlain serves as director of program development. Soto related Jesus’ miracle of the loaves and fishes and said that Chamberlain possesses the ability to take loaves and multiply them.
“He pulls resources from every part of New Bedford and makes things multiply,” Soto said.
In the food pantry and on the streets, Chamberlain is affectionately known as “Reverend Bread.” He also bears a striking resemblance to Good Saint Nick, with his white beard and sparkling blue eyes.
“We serve, on average, about 100 to 110 people a day,” Chamberlain said. “These people need us, and to have (breakfast) served to them brings them hope.”
Unlike most food pantries, Mercy Meals and More provides free breakfasts with restaurant-style service, offering a menu, table service and personal attention from waiters and waitresses.
“We create a different atmosphere than what is typical of a food kitchen,” said Hammett. “We get to know people’s names, and they get to know ours. Folks who feel connected to each other build stronger and more peaceful neighborhoods.”
Hammett, who was ordained in 1983, said he was drawn to New Bedford, an urban setting, because the mission of the church is at the doorstep.
“We’re right in the heart of the mission field,” he said.”
Here is some more information about Soup Kitchens:
Standard Times- Men of the Year! Please comment and share! Please volunteer!