May 1,2021- In Naples' Shadows, Children are Hungry
Feed Thy Neighbor. I was very touched by what two of our volunteers, Rik Cryderman and Gary Bopp, wrote about what we all do. So I am reprinting it below and extending a great "Thank You" to Rik and Gary; - Tony
CONSIDER FEED THY NEIGHBOR. In the shadow of luxurious high rise homes, just down the street from pristinely landscaped houses in gated communities, there are children of God, needing a meal and hungry to feel that they matter. We are eternally grateful to have discovered Feed Thy Neighbor, a wonderful initiative in the Naples area, and treasure the privilege that is ours, to deliver food to those in need in neighborhoods nearer than most know.
At first, we were the nervous ones, building our confidence to approach these strangers, now friends. “Would you like a meal?” we’d ask, hoping they heard the kindness in our voice and no condescension. Later, we learned their names and found familiar their faces. “Thank you! God bless you!” we’d hear from these good and grateful people. “We’re people too!” said one older man, who owned his struggles yet held his pride. “Wonderful People!” I replied, pulling down my mask to make sure he saw my smile. The mother who came to the van, with a toddler on her hip and three others in parade behind her, was thrilled to provide her children well balanced meals, still warm from the ovens where they were prepared by people who love them but they’ll probably never meet.
We learned of those doors where we would need to wait, a long time, for the frail resident to come to the door for food they depended on so much. We made no judgments of some who clearly fought their demons—but were hungry and needed so to know they weren’t forgotten. There was a window where I’d knock, and listen for the faint, weak voice, reminding me she couldn’t walk. Each time I’d ask if I could open the door and bring her meal, to the dark room where she sat. Each time, she’d answer “Please, if you would.” Though dark and dim, that room brought light to me—doing what these hands, this heart were meant to do.
And the little girl, about eight, who when I dropped off food for her sweet family, she asked, “Can I have one for my friend, Evelyn? She’s hungry too!” and off she went on her bicycle, not waiting for me to say yes, but me just jumping in the van and following in pursuit!
Oh, there are beaches to walk, shells to find and sunsets to enjoy here—but none of these compare to the smiles we’ve helped to bring, the hope we’ve inspired, the love we’ve told through Feed Thy Neighbor here. Volunteers are needed, donations are welcomed. We alone delivered 62 meals, two nights a week through the season, and our hearts break to head north—we’ll miss those precious people and worry about them until we return. If anyone would like to volunteer, their are volunteer schedules on the web site "FeedThyNeighbor.US. Thank you for considering.
Rik Cryderman and Gary Bopp