St. Laurence Chapel was a day-shelter for its first 25 years. Then in May 2017, St. Laurence Chapel transitioned to an overnight model. The Chapel asked St. Nicholas if the Holy Grill could serve dinner until the Chapel had a commercial kitchen and could adequately staff it. We readily agreed, even though we had no idea how our little parish would staff it. The impulse to do Good quickly spreads, however. The Holy Grill has been serving dinner at the Chapel Mondays-Thursdays since May 1, 2017, when the Chapel first had overnight guests. Volunteers from St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church staff the Holy Grill on Mondays. Volunteers from St. Mary Magdalene’s Episcopal Church staff the Holy Grill on Tuesdays, Volunteers from St. Nicholas staff the Holy Grill on Wednesdays. And the Thursday team consists of St. Nicholas parishioners and independent volunteers from the community.
St. Nicholas has supported St. Laurence Chapel’s ministry to the homeless for over a quarter of a century, providing food, clothing, and toiletries. Accordingly, we routinely referred homeless individuals who stopped at the church to St. Laurence. Over time we came to learn that the homeless have a higher incidence of medical problems with their feet than the average person, because they are on their feet so much of the time. We realized that we needed to do more than suggest they travel miles to access the resources we had donated for their benefit. After much prayer, we discerned a need to get outside the walls of the sanctuary and beyond the boundaries of fixed sites to go where the needy, the homeless, and the working poor are – meeting them where they are to offer the love of Christ in the form of a hot, spirit-lifting meal.
In 2016, we seized the opportunity to buy a food trailer in order to launch a mobile feeding ministry. Being a small, financially struggling church, we could easily calculate how much the ministry would cost; but we did not have a clue how we would finance or staff the ministry. We’re grateful to so many people who have made it possible for us to serve over 21,000 hot meals to the homeless and working poor since September 2016.
Sometimes we hear people decry the young. Our experience with Carmerata Di Magdalena is a case in point. This string ensemble consists of amazingly talented youth from the age of 10 to 18 years of age. They specialize in classical Baroque music. At a time when parents and admirers were suggesting fund-raisers to support the youth, the youth themselves declined, saying they would rather support a good cause. They then adopted the Holy Grill mobile feeding ministry and performed concerts around Broward County, raising over $5,000 for the Holy Grill in their first season. We are delighted that Carmerata Di Magdalena has also dedicated the proceeds of their second season to the Holy Grill. When the youth play Vilvaldi’s Four Seasons, they lift souls to heaven. They also enable us to extend a helping hand to the less fortunate. The youth of Carmerata Di Magdalena both embody and enable hope for the future.
When the Holy Grill first started serving breakfast we offered simple breakfast sandwiches. Our menu began to expand as we listened and responded to our clients. Mark, a homeless man we often saw on Wednesdays, suggested Biscuits and Gravy. We responded with Country Eggs Benedict – a slice of cheese and an egg on biscuits or other bread, covered in sausage gravy with ham or bacon. We’ve received lots of compliments for a tasty meal that’s also quite filling. We always credit Mark for the idea. We now also offer French Toast with Egg and Sausage.