Sunday, October 07, 2012

Sunday "Service" in Waukegan, IL

Kind of a beautiful fall day in Waukegan, wasn't it? But there are a lot of people in need in this particular area of Chicagoland. Although this is a photo I took of Academy of Our Lady, my family and I were at Christ Episcopal Church across the street, invited by a friend, to help staff a soup kitchen for about 80 residents of the surrounding town.

Academy of Our Lady Catholic Church in Waukegan, IL

These kinds of social service activities can run every day of the week because there are that many people in need. I saw mostly men, but a few women and children as well. I yearned to know their individual stories, but in my role as Gravy Man behind the serving table, I only had time to ask each person if they wanted the gravy on the mashed potatoes, the meatloaf, or both.

Many expressed gratitude for the carb-heavy meal, but their bodies betrayed the kind of diet they typically consume -- high in fat and low in fruits and vegetables. One woman in particular caught my attention: she insisted that she was going to walk to Canada after the meal was over. "I've had it with America and I'm leaving today!" Perhaps she was an example of the high percentage of homeless who are mentally ill. Perhaps.

Beyond the momentary help we can offer these fellow citizens, I wonder: what can we do as a society to address these larger issues of physical and mental health?
[note: a version of this was cross-posted at the New Trier Social Service Board website]

Tuesday, October 02, 2012