Archive | May, 2010

Let me tell you what our Christian Help office looks like right now, as I write this.

27 May

There is a couple sitting in Sr. Therese’s office.  I didn’t butt in, but if they’re like most people who sit in front of her desk on a typical day, they’re probably seeking help with an electric bill because their service is about to be shut off, or coming with a similar need. And we will help them. We can’t pay up the whole thing, but if they can find a way to get a good portion on the money together in other ways, we will provide the rest.

(Because of the high volume of requests like this recently, I asked Sr. Therese yesterday to bring down the amount we’re providing just a bit. Otherwise, we’d get way off budget.  Sr. Therese and I have a well-oiled working relationship in this regard: she works to help as many people with as much as we can, while I work to keep us in budget so we’re still around next month.)

Also at this moment, there are two people with Kathy in the “burn-out room.” That’s the room full of blankets, sheets, pots & pans, and all sorts of household goods. We call it the burn-out room because we provide most of the things people need when they’re burned out of their homes (which is a pretty common occurance in this region where so many people live in mobile homes; those things can burn to the ground in a matter of minutes).

There are three people with Delphia in the food pantry. The end of the month is always far busier in our food pantry, because ‘food stamps’ have run out. They’ll each be taking home a box loaded with chicken, pork, cheese, fruit, pasta, vegetables, cereal, and more.

There are three people ‘shopping’ our clothing store. (I put the word shopping in quotes because everything in there is free.)

There are three more people chatting in our waiting area, waiting to be helped by either Sr. Therese or Kathy or Delphia.

And there are three children playing in our little toys area while their parents get the help they’ve come for.

Sixteen people in our place, right now.  (And that’s not counting however many people are right now receiving a ride somewhere on the road around this area through our free transit service.)  I doubt any of them are all that happy to have to be here.  But before they leave, they will certainly receive a smile, some compassion, and some relief from whatever situation brought them in. 

That’s sixteen people you’re helping, if you’re one of the many people who support the work of Christian Help.  From these sixteen dear clients of ours today, thank you.

Christian Help makes The State Journal’s ’55 Good Things about West Virginia’ list!

21 May

Here’s something that has us both thrilled and humbled.  Every year, The State Journal, a major Charleston newspaper, publishes a special supplement that highlights what they call “55 Good Things about West Virginia.”  It’s always an inspiring collection of articles, providing more and more reasons to love this state. 

This year, we made the list!  The supplement, published May 14, includes a beautiful article about Christian Help and our sister agency, ABLE Families!  Writer Michael Hupp did a fine job depicting these two agencies and the way we carry out our respective missions.

Neither the overall list nor the article on us are currently available online.    But you can open a .pdf file of the article simply by clicking here

Our thanks to Michael and The State Journal for the gracious nod!

More help from WJU students

20 May

Yesterday I mentioned the tractor trailer that serves as a storage unit for Christian Help and the new paint job it’s receiving this week, thanks to the generous service of a group of students visiting from Wheeling Jesuit University.  Here’s a before and after of their work, completed late this afternoon.

This truck was a gift several years ago from Fr. Ralph Beiting, a local icon and wonderful example of what it means to serve the poor and work for social justice.  

The students also finished work today on the painting they’ve been doing inside the home of one of our clients.  (See yesterday’s post.)

Our heartfelt thanks to this great group of people for their hard work, committment to pitch in constructively, and kind hearts!

Helping Hands

19 May

A group of students from Wheeling Jesuit University is in town this week, learning about rural poverty and doing some important service work.  They’re all participants in the University’s impressive Fr. Pedro Arrupe Scholars Program

Here are some of them, who are at the home of one of Christian Help’s dear clients today, giving the walls a fresh coat of paint.  Another group is scraping and painting the tractor trailer we park behind our building, which serves as a large storage facility for our agency, and cleaning out our “burn-out room,” a storage room full of home supplies for people who have been burned out of their homes.

Local donations address local needs

11 May

On Saturday, May 8, the National Association of Letter Carriers, in conjunction with the U.S. Postal Service, carried out its annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.  (It’s the nation’s largest single-day food drive.) 

Letter carriers collected canned goods and other non-perishable food items while on their routes.  All food collected in this annual event is contributed to local food banks and pantries around the country. 

Once again this year, Christian Help of Mingo County received a generous portion of the food collected in our area that day.  It was made available to us on Monday, and the food that was stacked on our pantry shelves began to be distributed that very day to local people in need. 

If you don’t think that’s important, consider this: During the month of April 2010, Christian Help provided food from our pantry to 166 local families.  That number is more than double the number of families we helped in April of 2009.  The need in our region is great.

Here’s CH employee Delphia stacking the newly donated food items when they were dropped off by the postal service on Monday.

A peek at the cover

11 May

Here’s a personal thrill I’d like to share with you — a first look at the cover of a book I wrote that will be published this fall.

I’m especially excited that it’s being published by Liturgical Press, which has been an influential publisher of some wonderful books of theology and spirituality for nearly a century. (How they decided my own work merits a place in their catalog is beyond me, but let’s keep that between you and me.)

I’ve been interested in liturgical theology (theology of worship) for many years and studied it a decade ago at the Catholic University of America. This book took shape gradually since then. It’s on the Eucharistic prayer, which is the long prayer prayed over the bread and wine — mostly by the priest, but in the name of the entire assembly — during the celebration of the Eucharist in the Catholic and several other Christian traditions.

The point of my book is to present some exciting scholarly work and centuries of liturgical tradition to non-specialist readers in an engaging and accessible form. Here’s the description that the publisher has prepared for the back cover:

We somehow think that during the eucharistic prayer at Mass we are expected to be quiet, prayerful, and attentive—if we can be, with our children or other neighbors in the pews distracting us. In this inviting book Barry Hudock shows us that the eucharistic prayer is indeed the most dynamic and “explosive” moment of Christian worship—in fact, of Christian life. Hudock takes us back to the beginnings of formal eucharistic worship in the early church, then forward to Vatican II and beyond, unpacking and exploring the eucharistic prayers old and new in words and concepts accessible to all of us. He also offers us, as the fruit of the journey, a set of points for a eucharistic prayer spirituality to prepare us for the explosion into life that is the whole purpose of our being.

Publication isn’t until October, but for now, it’s cool to see the cover.

Kindness received

6 May

Sometimes the ‘view from my desk’ is a frustrating and discouraging one.  There is so much need in so many ways here in Mingo County, more than we can possibly address effectively, and there is so much working against the kind of development of the region that would allow the need to actually decrease. 

But then sometimes ‘the view’ is mighty inspiring and hopeful.

On April 20, I blogged here (two posts down) about the local clergyman who had called my office about getting help for one of his church members, whose home is in disrepair.  I mentioned to you a detail that he mentioned to me — how his foot had nearly gone through the bathroom floor.  I also told this story in several thank-you notes I sent that week, because it’s the generosity of our friends and supporters that allows us to help with such needs. 

Then, just a few days later, an envelope arrived in the mail and inside was a check for $1,000, with a note telling me to make sure I get that bathroom floor fixed!  Such kindness is moving and invigorating. 

The floor will indeed be fixed — and more will be done with the gift, too, because we won’t have to pay expenses for labor.  The work will be done by a gentleman coming with his family to Mingo County from many miles away in just a few weeks.  The entire family — husband, wife, and 4 kids — are coming to volunteer their time and work for people in need here. 

See what I mean?