As we begin Lent I can’t help but think of these words from Pope Francis’ Ash Wednesday message: “love is a gift that gives meaning to our lives. It enables us to view those in need as members of our own family, as friends, brothers or sisters. A small amount, if given with love, never ends, but becomes a source of life and happiness.” These words echo what we do for one another every day at Bread and Life – we look out for one another, the strongest among us lift up our struggling neighbors and together we move forward.
The month of February also marked Valentine’s Day, a reminder to all of us the importance of celebrating love – the love of a spouse, a child, a parent, sibling or friend. It is a day that reminds us of the gift we are to others and the special connection we have with others. It is a day to celebrate with special gifts. Last February, our lives were about to change forever. Over the past year I have been reminded to treasure what I have, to have a greater appreciation and respect for those around me, and know how precious each person in my life is. So as I thought about what I would do for Lent this year, I decided to sponsor 1 meal package a day for the 40 days of Lent in honor of all the wonderful people who have touched my life: my family, the Sisters of Mercy, friends, and of course the amazing staff here at Bread and Life. I will be more mindful that the meal I sponsor is helping to lift up the spirit of one of my neighbors.
During the month of February we served 243,578 meals to families and individuals in Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan (316,652 pounds of food). Our outreach and resource sharing programs have grown significantly – we now provide support to 21 organizations throughout Brooklyn and Queens, and as we look forward to spring, we will be rolling out our mobile market program in new communities serving an additional 1,500 people weekly. We are so grateful to the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation for its grant of $750,000 which enables us to provide this much needed service. We are also grateful to our friends from Plymouth Church for supporting our meal program and the Sisters of Mercy for joining with us to ensure that no one family goes hungry.
As we walk through Lent this season my hope is that I can be more mindful of those around me and treasure the gift that each one is to me.
Sr. Caroline Tweedy, RSM