Marcy held back tears while reading a birthday card that a guest from the Marian House Soup Kitchen (MHSK) had given her. A line from the card describes her perfectly as “the kind of friend who brings light wherever she goes, who brightens up a room and encourages those inside.” Marcy has spent the last 15 years volunteering at MHSK, using her gifts of mercy and compassion to befriend those she meets. At a time before she volunteered, Marcy faced some personal difficulties of her own. A colleague at her job encouraged her to volunteer with him at the Marian House to take her mind away from her troubles. Marcy found her place after her first day of volunteering, “I usually do my bussing job, scraping the dirty dishes. I love that job because that’s how I get to meet the people. It’s the last place they come, and nobody’s rushing them through the lines, so we can stand there, and we can chat.”
“I was broken,” Marcy admits, “They were broken. We kind of related to each other. I get to know these people, and I feel so enriched by it.” The Marian House is often the only place where some guests feel acknowledged or are met with a smile. It is a place where they find community. Marcy makes a special effort to learn the names of guests she meets to give them a sense of belonging, “If I don’t see them for a while, I get worried. And when they come in I say, ‘Where have you been? I’ve been worried about you!’”
Marcy tells countless stories of guests that inspire her. She will talk about long-time Soup Kitchen guest, John. He was excited to inform Marcy that he was six months sober. John insisted that when he saw Marcy at the Soup Kitchen, and she asked how he was doing and it kept him motivated. Three years later, John returned to the Soup Kitchen to tell Marcy that he is now pursuing Youth Ministry to help prevent young people from making the same mistakes that he had made in the past.
Another friend of Marcy’s is Jerry. Jerry is an author who had been writing his stories about homelessness and his travels for many years. She encouraged him to publish his work and with help from the Marian House Life Skills Center, Jerry became a self-published author online.
“They give me back more than I ever give them,” Marcy expressed, “I can’t explain it.” Inspired by those she has met, Marcy writes poetry and paints portraits. Two of her poems, “He’s Like the Wind” and “Our Brothers and Sisters,” are displayed in the Marian House, in addition to two portraits she painted of MHSK guests. She calls her series of works Faces of Survivors, “I call them survivors, not homeless because they are surviving every day.”
Marcy’s compassion and for every individual she meets keeps even the most out of reach, returning to the Marian House Soup Kitchen community.