1. a person who spends some time at another person's home in some social activity, as a visit, dinner, or party.
2. a person who receives the hospitality of a club, a city, or the like.
At Patchogue Neighbors INN we refer to those we help as guests. It’s a fitting term because it exemplifies the atmosphere of dignity and respect that we try to foster.
Yet there is no typical guest; let me explain.
Anna (all names have been changed) is a retired homemaker whose quick wit and boundless energy make her seem much younger than her 88 years. She usually arrives at 6:30 on a Saturday morning and immediately takes on the job of setting up the tables and chairs.
A few minutes later she is joined by Bob who pitches in to make sure the dining room is ready for the guests who will arrive later on. Bob was in the home remodeling business until the economy tanked and left him unemployed. Now he works part-time and uses the soup kitchen to help supplement his inadequate salary. Bob is always looking for more work, but thinks that his age is a stumbling block as younger guys seem to get the jobs.
Marci is a grandmother of two who, along with her daughter, arrive around eight o’clock. Her daughter is a single parent who cannot afford to feed her family three meals a day. The soup kitchen allows her to put aside some money for school clothes and supplies. She is especially grateful that the food is nutritious and well-balanced.
Justina arrives next. Her two boys and daughter follow close behind as Justina finds a comfortable spot for them to settle down. She is one of the luckier guests in that she is able to afford a car. But money is therefore very tight and the meals that her family receives help tremendously.
John and Sam arrive with several others, all veterans. John has had to live in his car for the past few weeks because of a glitch that dropped his name from a Veteran’s Affairs computer. One of the other vets offers him temporary housing until he can straighten it all out. American veterans are one of the largest groups to use the soup kitchen. After leaving the Service, debilitating Injuries and trauma have made it difficult for many veterans to make it on their own.
By 8:45 most of the guests have arrived and the room is filled with conversations about family and questions about the menu for today.
Rachel and Abraham met at a local hospital when each was receiving physical therapy for work-related injuries. They are just two of the several guests whose disabilities make it impossible to hold a job. They worry about the state of the economy and the possibility that government assistance may be cut off at any time.
These are just a few of the many guests who share a meal at our soup kitchen.
The Patchogue Neighbors INN
PO Box 727
Patchogue, NY 11772