Many people use their Saturday mornings to catch up on sleep or run errands. This week’s New Yorker spends her day preparing meals for those in need. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.
Barbecue chicken, fresh bread and pastries are on the menu every Saturday at St. Michael's Church on Manhattan's Upper West Side.
Much of this home-cooked goodness comes courtesy of Marilyn Thompson, who's volunteered at the church for the last 23 years.
"When you don’t have hope, you must despair, and you don't want to see despair," Thompson says. "So it's good when I see people who feel good about coming to have a meal and not feeling that they're being belittled because they're having a free meal."
Thompson says she first noticed the need in her community in the late '80s. She wanted to combine her love of cooking with her desire to help.
Today, she's in charge of dozens of volunteers who arrive each Saturday. They say she's the reason the kitchen is so successful.
"She makes everyone feel like they are part of the job, part of the program, and we get much more interested because she gives us freedom," says Julio Chacor, a volunteer. "She knows how to direct everything."
Local supermarkets and members of the community support the program through donations.
Thompson says she sees a mix of people coming through, from young mothers to the elderly. Her team focuses on nourishing some 200 people every week.
"I try to create meals that are healthy, but not difficult to prepare," she says.
Patrons say it's not just about the meal. It's also about building a community.
"I love to see other people," says Mary Wakino, a patron. "It's good to have company. Even if you don't know them. It's marvelous."
Good company and good food, all thanks to Marilyn's good heart.
"She has great volunteers, she has great help, but she is the kind of heart and soul of the program," says Elizabeth Maxwell, interim pastor at St. Michael's Church.
"She has love," Chacor says. "That's the most important thing. And she knows how to give the love that she has."
So, for providing warm meals, and bringing warmth to those in need, Marilyn Thompson is our New Yorker of the Week.
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