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Photo: Elmer Romero
Grate Patrol has provided uninterrupted weekend breakfast distribution to the homeless in downtown DC since 1981. Every Saturday and Sunday morning, volunteers deliver hundreds of healthy breakfasts to people living on the streets. In cold weather, many of the people we serve sleep outside on heating grates, hence the name of the program. Grate Patrol needs volunteers to boil eggs and to set up bags anytime Sunday-Thursday, prepare food on Fridays at 2:30 p.m. in the Dining Hall, and deliver bags starting at 5:45 a.m. each Saturday and Sunday. Participation provides a terrific opportunity to meet fellow parishioners and our friends on the street. For more information, contact gratepatrol [at] stpauls-kst.com.
Read about the history of Grate Patrol in the June 2009 issue of The Epistle.
For the past several years, a devoted group of parishioners has gathered every Friday afternoon to prepare 400 sandwiches and assemble the brown bag breakfasts that are distributed by other Grate Patrol volunteers early on Saturday and Sunday mornings. With most of the other feeding programs the homeless in downtown Washington rely on closed on the weekends, St. Paul’s 30-plus years of providing this ministry to people in real need fills a vital gap.
A number of our volunteer sandwich makers have signaled their intention to retire from this ministry. Their faithful service is greatly appreciated, and the parish owes them enormous thanks. Their decision provides us with both challenges and opportunities. On the one hand, we need additional help if we are to sustain the ministry that is at the core of our collective commitment to “Christ-like living.” On the other, we may be able to structure the Grate Patrol food preparation process in a way that makes it easier for parishioners who work to play a role.
One possibility is dividing the work into two shifts—one that accommodates those who are free in the afternoon but prefer to leave the city before rush hour, and a second that begins as the workday concludes and continues for an hour or two when the second batch of sandwiches has been wrapped up.
The Commission on Mission would like to hear from the members of the parish as to whether this idea appears workable and whether they would be prepared to play a part. (Obviously, other ideas about how to sustain Grate Patrol would be welcome as well.) A large enough number of volunteers might make it possible for us to field several post-work teams, reducing their commitment to twice or even once a month.
Please share your thoughts with any member of the CoM (Ann Korky, Rhoda Geasland, Tina Mallett, Scott Spaulding or Jerry Cassidy) or email Ann at akkorky [at] gmail.com. In his “State of the Parish” presentation, Bishop Jim expressed the hope that St. Paul’s could make Grate Patrol more truly a “parish” ministry by increasing the number of parishioners who participate. This may be the occasion to make that hope a reality. Please give this possibility your prayerful consideration.