Tag Archives: volunteers

funeralflowers

Flowers for Bunny

I didn’t post what music I was listening to as I made soup yesterday on Facebook. The kitchen was silent. There were no good choices. I was in my kitchen while Brownie was in Phila. funeralizing his wife, “Bunny”. Thanks to the kindness and generosity of a volunteer and supporter who knows how to do such things, The King’s Jubilee was able to provide flowers for the funeral. I have known Brownie for over 20 years. I met him in prison, then caught up with him on the street. He and Bunny, Marilyn Ledger, have been faithfully married for over 14 years by mutual declaration and common law. He stuck with her and cared for her through her battle with cancer. He came out to ask me for prayer for her in December. Last week, when she died, he was beside himself with grief. He had no money for flowers for his beloved and wanted to make sure their were flowers. He remembered the few times that I drove him and Bunny home on cold nights and was so grateful. Memory Eternal.

Pray for Brownie that he will find a way to move forward. Another thing, we need new dishes for him, preferably unbreakable ones. He smashed all his when he got the call from the hospital that Bunny had died in her sleep.

DSC01999

Making Green Tea & Cinnamon Capsules

Grinding Chinese Cinnamon for Capsules
Grinding Chinese Cinnamon for Capsules

Last evening I spent a couple of hours making a couple of hundred 500mg green tea capsules and a couple of hundred 500mg Chinese cinnamon capsules. They ended up costing me about 1-1/2 cents each. They are fresher and more potent than the ones in the bottles at CVS or Rite Aid that are usually priced at over 10 cents per capsule. The ginger and turmeric capsules which I make, actually cost less. I buy the Chinese cinnamon and vacuum packed, Japanese green tea at Assi Chinese Market in North Wales. We get the other spices from a store on an Amish farm in Lancaster County. I also make garlic capsules and coriander capsules. Garlic is a natural antibiotic. I am allergic to six classes of antibiotics , so I rely on garlic. For those on Medicaid who can’t get to a doctor quickly, this is a good alternative, as well. It is also just safer than the prescription ones, if it works. The coriander helps cleanse toxins out of the system. It helps some with blood sugar and a little with inflammation. You are probably thinking that this belongs on my personal blog about the adventures of a renaissance man. I assure you it has everything to do with the ministry.

There is an article on my personal blog on some of the benefits of ginger and turmeric. Both are powerful anti-inflammatories and are useful against arthritis. Ginger is useful in regulating blood sugar and helping the liver. It can reduce the need for Metformin, or, at least, mitigate its damaging side effects. Green tea, in capsule form, can help lower blood sugar rather quickly, by 50 to 75 points in a half hour. This can get someone out of trouble and spare an ER visit if one does something unwise. People with Medical Assistance can get a limited amount of medicines free. They cannot get natural herbal supplements on a prescription. Food Stamps do not pay for them either. They are less damaging to one’s system and end up preventing the need for expensive drugs and medical care. But corporations and vested interests wrote most  all of our health care and aid legislation. I use a lot of these spices and herbs in my cooking for the street, and as fresh as possible. The best way to get these is in your diet, so that you don’t need them as nutriceuticals. I am afraid that The King’s Jubilee is unusual in its approach to nutrition on the street. We keep hoping our approach catches on, but it’s like herding cats, as they say.

I got the capsule makers to save us money and improve the quality of what we as a family were using. I have not had to get Synvisc or cortisone injections in my knees for almost two years since I started taking two 550mg ginger and two 500mg turmeric capsules each day. (I have severe osteoarthritis and no cartilage there.) I haven’t had to take a Ketorolac pill since I found out that ginger can stop a migraine. I couldn’t help myself. I had to share this: the Golden Rule and all. There are a few of the men who have moved off of the street, who help us serve, whom we have gotten to know, whom we now provide with bottles of ginger and green tea and cinnamon, etc. It saves them pain, time off their jobs, trips to the ER, etc. It costs us a little money and some work and time. So much for saving on household expenses. It is so worth it to see their smiles!
smiles




Pianokeyboard

Mushroom Harmony

No. We are not talking about funny mushrooms here. We are actually talking about integration. Black and white blending in perfect harmony. A great many people of my generation are now thinking of Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder and their hit: Ebony and Ivory.

blackriceThat’s OK, but it has nothing to do with cooking, now does it? Although, I guess this could serve as a similar metaphor. only this one involves rice and mushrooms. This is our vegetarian alternative for tonight by our daughter, April Smith. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups white rice
  • 2 cups black rice
  • 10 medium – small yellow onions
  • 4 pounds button white mushrooms
  • 4 bunches Swiss chard
  • 2 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 3 teaspoons cumin
  • 4 Tablespoons oregano
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil

Cook white rice and black rice separately. Dump into roaster pan.
Saute’ onions and spices until translucent. Add to rice in roaster pan.
Saute’ mushrooms in batches until tender. Add to pan.
Saute’ chard until just barely tender. Stir it together with all of the other ingredients. Slow bake until ready to serve. Enjoy with dozens of old friends, new friends, soon to be friends. Live together in Perfect Harmony!

Organic_Avocado_Hass_Fuerte

California Style Beans & Rice

Organic_Avocado_Hass_FuerteOur vegetarian alternative last night was prepared by our daughter, April Smith.  It’s beans and rice, but it’s not your typical Phili-Rican mama’s beans and rice, that’s for sure! She didn’t know what to call it after she concocted it, so I named it, “California Style” since that’s where the Hass avocados come from , after all. One of the young men from Eastern University’s YACHT Club , who serve alongside us, requested the recipe. So here it is.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs black beans soaked in water overnight
  • 3 very large Spanish onions or 3lbs yellow onions – chopped
  • 6-7 sweet peppers – yellow, orange or red – chopped
  • 3 cups white rice
  • 5 ripe avocados – cubed
  • 1 lime, squeezed over the avocado
  • 5 or 6 ripe Ataulfo mangoes (a smaller yellow mango) or 4 regular mangoes, cubed
  • 1 bunch cilantro chopped
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder or 1 head garlic minced
  • 1 Tbsp coriander
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Start by draining the beans and cooking in fresh water until tender. When done, transfer to casserole pan. While beans are cooking chop all your peppers and onions. Saute’ onions with a little salt until soft. You may have to do this in 2 or more batches. Saute’ peppers with a little salt and garlic, coriander, cumin, oregano and cayenne. When semi-soft, transfer to casserole. Use the same pot, add 6 cups water and turmeric and bring to a boll. Add rice and cook until done (Cooking in the same pot makes use of the spices stuck on the pan.) Transfer rice to casserole pan along with cilantro and black pepper. Stir gently together and heat in oven. 20 minutes before serving add in the mango and avocado. Enjoy! Makes a large turkey roasting pan full.

The people loved it! We did not use much hot sauce at all, and came home with an empty pan.

johnsmile

Do the right thing.

“Do the right thing.” Four simple words, but not so simple in the execution. Fundamentalists will tell you that there is always a clear choice between right and wrong, good and evil; like black and white. Haven’t we seen where fundamentalists have led us too many times before? There were the persecutions of scientists like Galileo. There was the Inquisition. There were the Crusades. Pogroms against the Jews. There were the witch burnings in Salem. (My great, great … aunt Lydia was killed as a ‘witch’ there. She probably cured someone with native herbs, who was supposed to die according to “God’s will”.) There were the racially pure lynch mobs. There are the “missionaries” training African countries to kill gays. There are the fundamentalist Muslim jihadists who are killing Christians and Jews. Stalin’s various purges. (He was a fundamentalist communist.) The list goes on.

We can start out firmly (perhaps too firmly) convinced that our cause is right. We take action and things can go terribly sideways and we can become the thing that we set out opposing. This video illustrates this, when a bunch of little kids form a gang to go after a gang of older bullies to recover one of their friend’s bicycle.

We had a situation with some parallels to this at what we affectionately call Haggerty’s Home for Wayward Boys a few weeks ago. I wrote about how a local pastor basically dumped a family there in True Story. It turns out they were actively using addicts. The priest never called to check in on them, never accepted or returned their phone calls; has never offered support to John for keeping them there; did not call John to check in to thank him and check in to see how they were doing, etc.

I was working with them on a plan to aid them through withdrawal off the opioids. John was willing to work with them. He had given up his bedroom with his memory foam, queen size bed for the parents, while he slept, with broken ribs, on the lumpy couch. At my advice, he locked his shop for the first time ever. I provided them with counselling and herbs that would help detoxify their bodies more quickly to shorten the withdrawal process. they were not ready or willing to start it. They were still actively grifting and getting high and lying to everyone in the house and sowing discord.

Another resident of the house, nickname Charlie, is manic. Charlie returned from a long weekend away and caught wind of the fact that John had lent these people money. (I had told them if they asked John for one more dime, they were out of the house, because we were all helping out of a position of weakness, not of strength.) Charlie went ballistic and wanted to throw them out that night. I had to simmer him down. John was at work. It was 11pm. We agreed that Charlie could kick them out in the morning. The community did not take this decision lightly. We felt on some level that we had failed them. I did point out that they were no worse off than when they came. We had saved them from freezing to death in their car. The danger of that had passed now. They had abused the hospitality offered by lying, grifting, and continuing to do drugs. This put everyone in the house at risk. Everyone still felt bad. It was a good thing to see. Everyone still agreed that it needed to be done. The addicts had simply not bottomed out.

Charlie takes things to extremes. He called the priest and conflated the Orthodox Church and every scandal and every rumor of a scandal ever charged against the Roman Catholic church and hurled it at this priest, much like these boys in the video with their piss filled super soakers. He demanded that Fr. reimburse John for the money he had given to these people, etc. His plan was to continue the tirade by delivering the family onto the church lawn saying that Father will take care of you now. The family beat him to the punch and left before he could lead them anywhere and were already over there arguing with the priest on the lawn of the church when Charlie got there and he just observed from afar. Charlie also called the Bishop to talk to Father’s boss and left many rude and slanderous messages there.

Charlie is manic. He is brilliant. He is a hard worker. He is nearly impossible to live with. John Haggerty welcomes him into his home and gives him space to complete his work that has potential to save and help heal thousands of lives. Charlie’s full nickname is “Colonel Charlie Manson” for just these kinds of antics, but we love him.

Father did reimburse John for the $300 he had loaned the addicts and added another $100 for his troubles. God bless him.

johnsmileJohn & I have rescued each other numerous times in the last eight years that we have been neighbors. John is a solid worker in The King’s Jubilee. Our freezers are in his  shop. He makes most of our furniture deliveries. He was by my side for the whole of the court hearing when we had to sue the city. Before that, he accompanied me to all the meetings with various coalitions and groups that were strategizing to fight the mayor on his decrees against the homeless. He was very droll about meeting with more anarchists and communists and hippies, but always a good sport. He tries to keep me grounded.

John chides me for the fact that he has a houseful of homeless men. I’m not sure I can take much credit for that. Perhaps I made him more aware of the world outside of his windowless shop, but I can’t take credit for his heart of compassion or his patience.

This economy has hit him hard. He has had a hard time of it. Once one gets behind, it is next to impossible to catch up. He is in bankruptcy and that is in jeopardy. I started a GoFundMe for him this week to try to save his home and save the bankruptcy plan, so he would not lose all his tools and everything. You may also send funds directly to John without incurring any fees by designating it as a “gift” and using your Paypal to his Paypal account:
oddcoach@aol.com
Or you may mail checks to John Haggerty, 107 E. Chestnut St., Souderton, PA 18964.

So I guess it’s time for all of us to step up and “do the right thing” and rescue John’s house from foreclosure. I would also like you to consider making a monthly pledge to The King’s Jubilee, so we can provide ongoing support and a safety net for John and the men at Haggerty’s Home for Wayward Boys.





Yucca root

Vegetable Delight Soup

yuchoy
Yu Choy

When I started to make tonight’s soup my back was hurting like crazy, so I was not sure how it was going to go. It hurt just to cut the yucca root. About then, Kevin showed up to help. He took over slicing and dicing. I commenced, supervising, story telling and documenting.

Ingredients:

  • water
  • 3-1/2 pounds yellow split peas
  • 1 large yucca root, peeled & pureed
  • a bunch of fresh cilantro, pureed
  • a handful of tarragon, pureed
  • 3″ ginger root, peeled & pureed
  • 1-1/2 heads of celery, chopped
  • 1 pound of sweet baby orange, yellow & red peppers, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 pound of radishes, sliced
  • 1 fennel, diced (including fronds)
  • 8 ounces fresh spinach, cut up
  • a bunch of Yu Choy (Chinese mustard greens, looks like giant spinach)
  • 1 large carrot (It was lonely in the fridge.)
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed
  • ~ 1 Tablespoon ground turmeric
  • ~ 2 Tablespoons dried basil
  • ~ 1 Tablespoon rubbed Albanian sage
  • 20 grinds black pepper

Directions:

Bring a few quarts of water to a boil in a 22 quart stock pot. Add the split peas and cook. Puree’ the yucca, cilantro, tarragon, and ginger in a food processor, and add it to the pot. Whisk the mixture together. Add water, if too thick. Keep chopping the other ingredients. Once the peas are liquefied, add the other ingredients to the pot. Reduce heat. Add more water, as necessary. The stockpot should be about 3 inches shy of full. It should still be fairly thick. Stir everything together. Transfer the stockpot into a canner on top of a couple of rags with a couple inches of water in it. Once you put the stockpot in, the water should come most of the way up the side. This is a giant double boiler, allowing you to stew the soup for hours, without scorching it. Stir it occasionally. Check the water level in the canner so it doesn’t boil dry.

Health Benefits:

Yucca root is used for osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, migraine headaches, inflammation of the intestine (colitis), high cholesterol, stomach disorders, diabetes, poor circulation, and liver and gallbladder disorders. It helps cleanse the body of toxins.
Cilantro has strong antioxidant properties and helps cleanse the body of heavy metals. It has also been found to help in lowering blood sugar and preventing cardiovascular damage. It has also been shown to help lower anxiety. [1]
Ginger has been found useful as a powerful anti-inflammatory and migraine preventative, useful in the treatment of diabetes and dozens of other ailments. Turmeric is also a powerful anti-inflammatory, and it has been shown to lower cholesterol as effectively as Lipitor. I wrote about this here.
Peppers have more Vitamin C than oranges, plus they have valuable bioflavonoids as do the radishes.
Celery is a cardiovascular anti-inflammatory and is a good source of Vitamin K and fiber along with a number of minerals.
Yu Choy provides vitamins K, A, C, folic acid and antioxidants.
Garlic is a natural anti-viral and anti-biotic.

We try to provide a healthy meal. We made a vegetarian soup for tonight, because April is making ground beef and cabbage casserole. We always want to offer a vegetarian choice for those who do not eat meat. Thank you for your your support. God bless you.

Trooper needs a new clutch.

clutch3On Thursday night, Esther McGraw almost arrived at 18th & Vine with the spaghetti and sandwiches, but not quite. I got a call from her mom that she was just below us (literally) on 676 and 4 blocks away underneath 22nd. Her clutch had failed and her car stalled and she did not know how to drive it without a clutch. I asked around to any of our volunteers if any of them knew how to drive a car without a clutch. Gregory said he did. Brian & Gregory took the TKJ-mobile down to her. Gregory tried, but it was too rough and it had been too many years since Greg has last done this. Esther’s brother, Eric, was already on his way to drive the car home. Brian & Gregory retrieved the spaghetti and sandwiches for us to serve and Esther continued to wait for Eric. We still had customers for the food, so it was a good thing we were able to get it. Eric was able to drive Esther’s car home. They brought it to their mechanic today.

Years ago, Esther earned the street name “Trooper” from the guys we serve. This is because of all of the nine McGraw children, she was always the most faithful to come out and serve. She’s 19 now and drives her own car, many times. Much of the time she will come alone or with one or more of her younger siblings. She is definitely a trooper. She is a freshman in college. She is determined to pay as she goes so as to not be saddled with debt. We would like to be able to help her with this repair, so she can keep moving forward. (She did not ask me to do this.) If you want to help pay for Esther’s new clutch, to keep her serving the poor and making progress in her journey, you may make a donation, then send an email to let us know that you want it designated for “Trooper’s clutch”.

Thank you! God bless you!

True Story

ptsdI am told that I am too negative about the church and that I am too critical. Well, there is history. I have been bullied by so many pastors and priests, lied to and deceived by spiritual mentors from junior high on up, in fact, so much so, that I have PTSD as a result. A Lutheran pastor expelled me from confirmation class one month before confirmation (after 3 years)  for asking too many questions. A Mennonite pastor, who had been a close friend and mentor, threatened to kill me for forbidding him from bringing inflammatory literature into a prison. For all that, I remained extremely active in church. I was the first man ordained for prison ministry in the Mennonite Church. I was ordained on five occasions in six denominations. None of these ordinations were requested by me. I was willing to give all that up to continue ministry as a layman in the Orthodox Church, as I believed it to have a solid theology and tradition of ministry to the poor, was indeed the church, and would provide a safe base and covering for ministry. Unfortunately, I have not found that to be the case.

Instead, I have found the same jealousy from a pastor who feels threatened by my presence in his church, lies and attacks. But when a family is in need, who is called? The King’s Jubilee. A homeless family of three was referred by the church to Uncle John’s last week. We helped John keep his home and we help feed the men there and keep the phones on, etc. This family can stay there as long as they need to, to get their feet under them. Last spring, we rescued a parishioner who was becoming homeless after losing his job two years prior. He was selling his possessions in the church hall just to have enough gas money to get back and forth to church, until the priest and parish council decided it was too much clutter on the table against the wall and he had to stop. This was during Lent. They did not offer to help him move or help him find a place to live or offer him a spare room. We hired him to revamp the “Come and See” Icons website and Uncle John took him in. He is still there. He is working on a program there to help catch sex-offenders and he volunteers teaching English as a second language. He doesn’t make it to church much. No one from the church calls. The priest didn’t even think to call him until I told him to at Christmas time, and that maybe someone more friendly to the church than our family should do so.

There is no regular support from the church for The King’s Jubilee. There was no offering taken to help Uncle John help this family that is now living with him. John is in bankruptcy himself, while working a full-time job and running two businesses. A couple of years ago, the priest took credit for The King’s Jubilee as if it were a parish ministry, which it is not, in the archdiocesan magazine, without checking with us. This marked us as Antiochian, so then the Russians didn’t want to get involved with us. He only wants to support “ministries” that have good marketing potential in the local area, even though the bishop told him to make sure the church supports The King’s Jubilee regardless of our personal relationship.

But I have seen this pattern too many times before. The evangelicals going for the ‘easy fruit’ refer the hard cases to some other agency or drop them off at the county assistance office with a token grocery gift card. They pray and hope they don’t come back and become a burden on them and the community, so they can go out and find some potential tithers who will fit in better with the existing demographic of the ‘church family’. Spend money on advertising before spending it on ministry where you don’t get a mention in the local press. Sound the trumpets like the Pharisees! It is very much based on a successful sales model, but it is not Christian. It is not Orthodox Christian. Please do not mistake my honesty with malice. I bear no ill will. I want to see the church improved. I want to see the priest get psychiatric help.

We are very grateful for so many who responded generously to rescue us from foreclosure. What we don’t understand is this willingness to rescue us, coupled with what seems like a steadfast unwillingness to rescue the people we serve or to support the ministry in such a way so that we wouldn’t need rescuing. We know that several of you have made monthly commitments or make quite sizeable annual donations. We are not talking about you. It’s the rest of you. Many of you want to criticize me for one thing or another. I am an easy target. I speak my mind. I really have no good reason to not speak my mind. When I have done that, it has never been rewarded, only betrayed.

“The laborer is worthy of his hire.” If the church is going to use us to take care of its poor problem, then maybe it should publicly acknowledge that, or maybe there should be some real support instead of, “Be warm and well fed … .”

Please click the friendly yellow “Donate” button to use Paypal to make a recurring monthly donation. It’s painless. God bless you!

Brassy Pilaf

broccoli-cauliflowerFor our vegetarian side dish last night, April made what she called “Brassy Pilaf”. I asked her what made it brassy. She told me that broccoli and cauliflower are both brassicas. I looked it up, and to be more precise, they are actually both brassica oleracea, different cultivars of the same species, along with kale, collard greens, kohlrabi, savoy, and Chinese cabbage.
At any rate, it was very well received. People told us it was tasty. Almost no one asked for hot sauce on it, so it must have been good.

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups uncooked white rice, cooked in water
  • 1 bag broccoli crowns (about 3 heads)
  • 2 small cauliflower, cut up bite sized
  • 5 large red onions, chopped
  • olive oil as needed
  • 3 teaspoons garlic powder
  • pepper & salt to taste
  • 3 teaspoons coriander
  • 3 Tablespoons oeregano

Saute’ chopped onions in oil. Add seasonings. Lightly steam broccoli & cauliflower. Add all to rice in a large roaster pan.

cropped-markerlogo.jpg

TKJ’s 25th Anniversary

markerlogoFebruary marks the 25th anniversary of The King’s Jubilee. I dug out a bunch of the old newsletters and other literature today. The hand traced logo is from a newsletter I did in marker in 1996 after people complained about the print quality of my printer. In 1994, our entire annual budget was less that $4,000. With that we served over 9,000 meals in Philadelphia, Pottstown and Stowe, and  led a Monday Evening Bible Institute, two prison Bible studies, established a Spanish ministry in Graterford Prison; printed an inmate newsletter; established a new homeless ministry in Upper Darby; provided personal care kits via our Project: Lydia program in the Northampton Co. Women’s Prison. I have never received a salary for this ministry. I have basically worked at it pretty much as a full time volunteer. I started to write another paragraph about the various ministries we have done or attempted through the years, but decided to do it as a bullet list, instead. I’m not sure of all the dates.

  • Wednesday, General population Bible study, Graterford Prison, 1989 – 1996
  • Saturday, Intake block Bible study, Graterford Prison, 1989 -1996
  • Christmas morning at Graterford Prison with Bethann & April, 1989 – 1995
  • Serving hot meals and sandwiches to the homeless and poor in Center City Philadelphia, along with clothing, blankets & toiletries. 1987 – present
  • All day Music Festivals with free food for the poor and homeless and the community. We called them “Victory Parties”, because we were sounding the trumpet, to declare Jesus’ victory over homelessness and poverty, in the early nineties. Twice in Philadelphia, Pottstown, Phoenixville, & Upper Darby.
  • Film with discussion series on various social issues, held in different church halls.
  • TKJ Monday Evening Bible Institute, 1993 – 1996
  • Established Spanish language ministry in Graterford Prison. It continues to this day, although not under our leadership. We were just the catalyst to open the door.
  • Inmate Correspondence Discipleship Course
  • TKJ Inmate edited newsletter
  • Sunday evening support prayer meetings / house fellowships in East Greenville, Pottstown & Upper Darby, PA & Columbia, SC.
  • “Clothesline” free clothing ministry in East Greenville. We facilitated it, found its new home and ran it for a little while. April designed its logo when she was in high school. They still use it. Peace Mennonite Church still operates it 20 years later.
  • Project: Lydia, personal care items in hand made drawstring bags distributed to all of the women inmates in the Northampton County Prison. Only for a few months. Then they disallowed us.
  • Serving hot meals and sandwiches, etc., in Pottstown and Stowe, 1990 – 199?
  • Serving hot meals and sandwiches, etc., in Columbia, SC, 1991 – 199? (We got it started, then entrusted it to a local church. We are not interested in empire building.)
  • Serving meals to the homeless and poor in Upper Darby. 1992 – 1996
  • Power Packs, relatively non-perishable snack bags for folks to take with them for the next day, 1992 – present
  • Mount Moriah Cemetery clean up and restoration efforts.
  • A couple of urban / suburban exchange potluck dinners.
  • Ugly Quilts
  • Operation: Clean Start providing cleaning supplies and equipment to those moving off the street into permanent housing. 2011 – present.
  • Gathering and delivering furniture, dishes, bedding, etc., to those who have moved off of the street. 1989 – present.
  • St. Nicholas coin distribution Dec. 6, 1998 – present
  • Occasionally taking folks home for a weekend break from the city or finding someone a home to get off the street, 1989 – present
  • Providing music while we serve in the park. This has happened intermittently and is always desirable.
  • Distributing socks & underwear to ~200 at the Tindley Temple UMC’s Soup Kitchen’s Christmas Lunch, 2012 on.
  • Rent Parties & Virtual Rent Parties 2013 – present
  • Stocking cupboards with staples and basic utensils when people move off the street. 1995 – present. We are launching an organized program to do that, now, called “Jubilee Pantry”.

I’m sure I forgot some things. That’s OK. Through the years, we have also helped several homeless students buy books and computers to complete their studies. One man presented me with his graduation program and a thank you note when he graduated cum laude as a nurse. We have helped other front lines ministries with materials, computers and funds. Once we even delivered a used, electric golfcart to Ora Love so she could get around the project with all of her books and equipment to teach her students.

During Mayor Rendell’s years, we were investigated by undercover police at least three times that I was aware of. I told them that we were willing to go to jail before we would quit, because we had to obey God rather than men. Fast Eddy Rendell thought that the homeless were like dogs and that if we would only stop feeding them, they would go to someone else’s city. I assured him on the three occasions when I met him that no one was on the street because the food was that good! Since then, I have been told that my soup is better than what they serve at The Four Seasons. I still stand by my statement. We have been chased from one park to another. Policemen have harrassed us. Once I was told that Fairmount Park was private property . I took that officer’s name and badge number. He got a civics lesson from his commanding officer the next day. We have witnessed knife fights and fist fights and one shooting. Brownie shot Peaches in the butt with a 22. Most thought she had it coming. The two of them have been more or less happily married for over 15 years now. Ain’t love grand!

Once, the Fruit of Islam at Graterford put a hit out on me, and some other inmates put out a counter hit to protect me, stating that if anything happened to me, Nation of Islam inmates were going to die. They apparently circulated my photo around Phila. Les Bucher & I were coming home from serving one night and we were being ambushed, with a car in front and a car behind and a man in a long coat in the summertime with a big gun in his pocket came running up to Les’s side of the van. He started to raise the gun. He spots me in the “shotgun” position, and says, “O, it’s you, Cranford. Have a nice night!” A signal was given and the car in front moved and we were allowed to leave. Another time, I was taken at gun point from my workplace by an ex-offender so I could get him admitted to a drug rehab while he was high as a kite. Interesting times.

Working in prison and on the street changed me and changed my theology. This has alarmed my old fundamentalist friends. However, a theology that bears bad fruit in the real world is invalid. If it leads me to see my brothers and sisters as “other” or inferior or “market” and not simply as somebody’s children, who are trying to muddle through as best they can figuring it out as they go like I am, then I don’t need it. “Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children.” (Kahlil Gibran)

Through the years, I worked at various jobs to support myself and my family. I always needed something with a flexible schedule so that I could do this work. Finally, I started “Come and See” Icons, Books & Art in January 2001 thinking it would be flexible and could grow and support the ministry. I was doing this out of our half twin in East Greenville, making the icons in a tiny space in the basement and finishing them in a tiny spare bedroom, which was also the office and mailing center. We finally decided to take the leap and move closer to church, to a place with an outbuilding that we hoped to house the business in in May 2006. It required major rebuilding. I set to work to do that. It took money. Some money came in, but then was delayed for a year. By the time we received it I had serious health issues, so I could not do as much. The business also got interrupted repeatedly by my health issues, an infection on my spine, then reaction to the antibiotic that nearly killed me; six months later migrainous strokes. Then debilitating strokes for three months, etc. Finally, the business went under in July of 2013, after never really showing a profit. A major flaw in my business plan was that my main competition was monks.

In 2012, we had to sue Mayor Nutter and the City of Philadelphia, after he decreed that serving free food in the parks to needy people was illegal. We won an injunction and that decision has become a landmark for other groups to fight and win against similar oppressive regulations across the country.

Dr. Jerry Burke & Dr. Peter Psomiadis organized the Hummus Open Golf Tounament. We had the 2nd Annual in 2012 where we debuted the most unusual trophy in sport, The Garbanzo. In 2013, we took it up another notch and introduced commemorative tournament hats.

tkjRaffle
From a 1996 Newsletter, offer still good!

We have been featured a lot in the press lately, since Charli Riggle encouraged me to do a Gofundme to save our home from foreclosure in conjunction with the almsgiving Facebook group drive she coordinated. She started the press connections as well. It eventually made it onto both the very local and the national scene. We raised over $45,000 and were able to save our home from foreclosure as well as a neighbor’s, for now. We raised the profile of the ministry and gained a few more monthly donors. We need many more to make this truly sustaining. I have been essentially working two full time jobs for nearly 25 years. No wonder I had a dozen or more strokes! We can end homelessness in Philadelphia. We need your support to be able to work at it to do that, without having to worry about not having insurance for Bethann and losing the house again in another year. Please make a monthly pledge. It’s easy and automatic on Paypal. If everyone who liked us on Facebook would give $10/month, we would have more than we have ever had to work with, ever. That is a McDonald’s meal (blecch!) skipped for you, which would allow us to move forward, full time to develop the ministry in some marvelous ways! We cannot do this ministry without you. We just give your alms away.

God bless you!
Peace,

Cranford Coulter
for The King’s Jubilee