We all like to get clean, put on clean socks and brush our teeth. It’s important for our health, our self-esteem, our psychological state of mind, our social life.
Often people come to the Redwood City Catholic Worker house and ask for a hygiene kit. When we give them the super special hygiene kit, they are thankful, and all smiles. The kit has everything from masks, to fingernail clippers and then also body wipes for a dry shower.
Yvonne Ryzak generously added to our collection of hygiene items and made 300 super hygiene kits. “The kit you would give your son.” Yvonne inspired her neighbors to lend a hand assembling the kits in her garage. THANKS, YVONNE!!
“Love your enemies.” “Do not Kill.” “Blessed are the Peacemakers.” “Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.” “He is alive, he is not here.”
Dear Friends, Easter 2021
William Stringfellow defined Resurrection as “Phil Berrigan having his ass in jail.” Stringfellow believed that every time Berrigan and others went to jail for saying “No to nuclear weapons and YES to life” it was an example of the Easter victory of LIFE over DEATH. Heather King (a blogger) wrote the following article for the “Angelus News.” It’s excellent.
THE JOURNALIST AND THE JESUIT
On Jan. 22, 2021, the Vatican-supported Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons entered into force, officially becoming international law. Fake news or suppressed news or no news hardly began in the 21st century. After the 1945 decimation by atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, for example, the U.S. government and military immediately began a campaign to hide the horror of the devastation and the particulars of human toll. The suppression worked – for a time. “Fallout: The Hiroshima Cover-up and the Reporter Who Revealed It to the World” (https://www.lesleymmblume.com/fallout) by LA-based journalist Lesley M.M.Blume recounts the tale of how New Yorker journalist John Hersey found his way into Hiroshima, settled upon six individual victims of the bombing and told their stories. Hersey was a seasoned, globetrotting journalist, no stranger to savagery and butchery. “The best chance that mankind had for survival – especially now that warfare had gone nuclear, [he] felt – was if people could be made to see the humanity in each other again.” But when he arrived in Japan over a year after the dropping of the bombs, he was staggered by what he found. A mother who’d clung to her dead infant daughter until the body started to decompose. Human beings who had been vaporized, leaving only shadows on the ground or walls. Residents, desperate to rebuild, who were still coming across severed limbs and charred corpses.
Hersey interviewed dozens of survivors and chose six upon whom to focus: a German Catholic priest, Methodist pastor, two Japanese doctors, a young female clerk, and a widowed seamstress, mother to three young children. The New Yorker, in an extraordinary editorial decision, decided to dedicate its entire Aug. 31, 1946, issue to a single article: Hersey’s 30,000-word piece, entitled simply “Hiroshima.” Published two months later as a book, the title has sold more than 3 million copies and has never been out of print.
With today’s combined inventory of nuclear arms comprising more than 13,500 warheads, Blume notes, “The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, a nuclear watchdog group, has reset its Doomsday Clock – which gauges the world’s proximity to the possibility of nuclear war—to ‘100 seconds before midnight,’ with midnight meaning nuclear apocalypse. The clock has never been this close to midnight – not even in 1953, ‘the most dangerous year of the Cold War,’ says Dr. William J. Perry, former U.S. secretary of defense and chair of the Bulletin’s board of sponsors. ….And nothing is being done to reduce the dangers.” That last statement is not entirely accurate.
The Kings Bay Plowshares 7 action on April 4, 2018, in Georgia, for example, is just one of more than 100 Plowshares actions, undertaken in concert with the effort to abolish nuclear weapons with people around the world. Father Steve Kelly, SJ, one of the seven, served almost three years and is now being (very slowly) transported to Tacoma, Washington, to face charges for violating probation with respect to another action there. All told, he has spent 10 years in prison in an effort to avert the possibility of omnicide – the literal wiping out of human life – for which the capability exists. “Nuclear weapons will not go away by themselves,” he quietly observes. “It is my lifelong quest to imitate the Good Shepherd. I will insert myself between the dangers and the flock.”
I’m haunted by a conversation I had with a politically disgruntled friend last year. “Love doesn’t prevail,” he said, “Love doesn’t triumph. Look at the racism. Look at our ‘elected officials.” “Love rarely prevails in a way that brings about a worldly triumph,” I replied. “But love is about the conversion of the human heart, not winning. And in some way we’re not given to see on this earth, I believe love always prevails.” To illustrate, I mentioned the small but fervent movement against nuclear weapons. I gave Father Kelly as an example. “That won’t do any good!” my friend scoffed. “We need to start blowing things up and burning stuff down. The really brave, original, radical people are realizing that we need to start exercising the freedom to hate.”
I am not sure what was more horrifying: that an otherwise intelligent human being would believe “the freedom to hate” to be an original idea, or that his heart was not moved by the silent, solitary witness of this man who has spent years of his life crying out in the wilderness. A witness who has virtually no “public profile,” no online presence, who has never asked to be recognized, validated, or applauded. That not a single atomic weapon has been dropped on a human population since 1945 is a fact that many attribute to Hersey’s exposé. John Hersey, one journalist. Father Kelly S.J., one man, accompanied and supported by the unsung fleet of others who have put their lives and freedom on the line through the years to rid the world of these weapons of hate.
Both have been accompanied, of course, by innumerable others, in and out of the Church, whose names we will never know: international peace organizers,
U.N. committee persons, men and women of prayer. AND NOW A TREATY
with respect to which the Vicar of Christ himself has proclaimed that nuclear
The following video is from Japan. It is a promo for a film that is about Steve Kelly and others who work to rid the world of nuclear weapons. The Nuns, the Priests, and the Bombs directed by Helen Young.
Food in any amount. This week we will restart our breakfast program. We need frozen lasagna, cut up chicken parts, burritos, etc.
Household needs: razors, laundry detergent, cleanser, light bulbs, toilet paper, Kleenex, laptop computers, bikes, cars, trucks and R.V.’s etc.
Scholarships and stimulus money for family in need of rent assistance.
Homeless: tents, socks, warm clothing, camping gear, deodorant, and jackets.
A house or money to buy a house. Recently we helped a new Catholic Worker purchase a Catholic rectory, school and church for a total of $80,000. We contributed $25,000. Housing is much cheaper in Pennsylvania.
Your ongoing love and support. By the way, Fr. Steve Kelly S.J. is a very, very close friend of all of the Catholic Worker Houses in the Western states and many on the East Coast. When Fr. Steve speaks against Nukes, he is speaking for all of us.
“As for me, my life is already being poured away as a libation, and the time has come for me to be gone. I have fought the good fight to the end; and I have run the good race to the finish; I have kept the faith…” 2 Timothy 4:5ff
Dear Friends, Feb. 2021
After 89 years on Earth and over 20 years at the Catholic Worker, Aida Louise Figueroa is now in heaven. She can continue to sing and dance among the cloud of saints and angels that she so deeply believed in all of her life. Sister Ruth is hugging her now. Perhaps because we work so closely with the homeless, all of us at the Catholic Worker in Redwood City, contracted Covid-19. The rest of us (Susan, Aurora, John, J Arthur, Sophie, Ronnie, Alex and myself) all recovered. Aida was hospitalized with Covid and pneumonia and died after two weeks, on Dec. 29th. Her loving service to the poor will continue as she continues to support us in the “communion of saints living and dead.” We thank God for giving us Aida for so many years and we thank Aida for being exceptionally good. She has a heart of GOLD that was forged in the convent for 28 years and in an orphanage when she was young. She is our Valentine.
Because we all got sick, our breakfast program has stopped. Eventually it too will reopen. Our Friday food distribution was interrupted and has been restarted. Weekly, Susan and the two Sharons (both nurses) visit homeless encampments and distribute whatever our spectacular supporters give us: socks, underwear, shirts, jackets, tents, sleeping bags, food (cooked and uncooked), DEODORANT, RAZORS, toiletries, etc. At best, being homeless is awful. With the pandemic, homelessness has become an invitation to death.
We continue to share “ear marked” donations as “Rent Subsidies” and as of early February, we have given out about $150,000 that Philanthropic Ventures Foundation and you, our supporters, have donated specifically as “stimulus aid.” The poor (especially the undocumented) are in deep crisis as their unemployment or shorter work weeks continue with no end in sight. Everyone we know is struggling to “make rent.” We restarted our Friday food distribution because rent is so expensive that there is no money left for FOOD. Food is now a discretionary fund for the very poor because of their struggle to just “make rent.” If the working poor go into serious debt, they will never get out of debt. This is nothing new.
Before Cesar Chavez began organizing the United Farm Workers Union, he brought the migrant workers together by “passing the hat” when one of them died from their grueling field work. Before Cesar started the funeral co-op, the families of the dead migrant workers would go into debt for life in order to pay for their simple funerals. In the Hebrew scriptures there is what was called a “Jubilee Year” when all debts are forgiven because endless debts make men and women slaves.
What we do at the Catholic Worker is very small. Like Mass, we symbolize another way to live in which we are all one family with ONE God who is our father/mother. We are called to feed one another. There is enough for all of us and “we must ask forgiveness from the poor for the bread that we give them.” It is heartbreaking to see so many so poor and to know that they are not only anxious about their health but also about where they will live if they are evicted. Lent will eventually get here, and we will again be reminded to “repent and believe.”
If you want to see Aida’s obituary and pictures of her and the homeless encampments with pictures of Susan and the two Sharons go to our website at www.rwdcw.wordpress.com
Peace and Gratitude,
Larry Purcell, Veronica Georges, Mary Jane Floyd, Jan Johanson, Aida Figueroa, Susan Crane, J Arthur White, and Aurora Thibault.
FOOD in any amount.
After housing and a job, the next most important need for the poor is transportation. We need bikes, cars, trucks, R.V.’s etc.
Household goods: cleanser, light bulbs (60 to 100 watt), toilet paper, Simple Green, gift certificates, disinfectant wipes, sweetener, canned goods (protein and meals), frozen goods (meals) etc.
Homeless encampments: Deodorant, razors, toothpaste, nail clippers,
snacks (energy bars), toilet paper, etc.
Transportation: Bikes, cars and RV’s…..
A house or money to buy a house for a new Catholic Worker center.
Your ongoing love and support.
Visiting our neighbors in various homeless camps: We have been going out each week to visit folks in their camp spaces. It seems like a reasonable thing to do, as many had been coming to the shower program, which we had to stop at the beginning of the pandemic. We can bring hygiene kits, clothes, TP etc, and at the same time, begin to understand the struggles they are going through. Folks living in the camps take care of each other, help each other, and are at times, amazingly compassionate and loyal to each other.
Some images of our visits to the homeless camps:
1. Sharron Miller makes 48 burritos to give out: A warm burrito on a cold and wet day can make a big difference.
2. A campsite under the freeway.
3. Sharon McQueen has worked as a home health nurse, and continues to use her skills.
4. Here, folks look out for each other. This campsite is kept clean, tents and shelters are along the fence under the trees.
5. The folks living in the camps have a constant struggle with garbage. We have noticed that some of the items have clearly been left there from people living elsewhere.
The treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons becomes law! The treaty prohibits the use, development, testing production, manufacturing, acquiring, possession, stockpiling, transferring, receiving, threatening to use, stationing, installation of deployment of nuclear weapons. The treaty has been signed by 86 countries, and ratified by 51 countries. Today, January 22, 2021, the treaty becomes legally binding in the countries that have ratified it.
The nine nuclear armed countries claim that the treaty does not apply to them. Only countries who have ratified the treaty are bound to obey it. But nations that continue to produce and use nuclear weapons will be increasing seen as acting outside the norms of human decency.
With great sadness, we want you to know that our beloved Aida Figueroa passed away on Tuesday evening, December 29, 2020 at Kaiser Hospital in Redwood City from COVID-19. She was 89 years old and had been living at the Catholic Worker for over 20 years. Larry was able to visit and pray with her Tuesday afternoon, and she was peacefully resting when he left. We remember with gratitude her life and service.
From our 2017 November Redwood City Catholic Worker Newsletter written by Larry:
“That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and how you are to clothe it…So do not worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will take care of itself…” (Matt. 6:25)
Many, many of you have visited the Catholic Worker House at 545 Cassia St. in Redwood City and have met Aida Figueroa. But for those of you who do not know her, here’s a snap shot.
Aida is the only Christian I’ve met who has intentionally made absolutely no plans for how she will afford growing old. Her only retirement plan is “God provides.” And guess what, so far it’s worked. It’s amazing!!!!
As a Benedictine nun for 28 years, Aida learned that her life is in God’s hands. As she worked and prayed as a Benedictine she was put in charge of supervising the cleaning of a Catholic Hospital. While working and praying, she found out that God cares for her as he does the birds of the air and clothes her as he does the flowers of the fields. She prays as if everything is up to God and works as if everything is up to us.
Aida came to the Catholic Worker over 20 years ago (she is 89 years old) and has been a fixture ever since. When she first arrived, Larry emphatically told her: “I am not taking care of you in your old age!” She said nothing in response.
Even though Aida knows that God provides, in Benedictine fashion, she never stops working. Her current involvements include volunteering weekly with Friends of the Library, Sandwiches on Sundays, and St. Anthony’s “New to U” clothing give away. In addition to that, she is the #1 housecleaner at the Catholic Worker. She deep cleans the place every week– we’ve never been cleaner! And she helps us with all of our projects at the Worker House. She deeply believes in both praying and working.
Whatever Aida is doing, she believes in healthy living. She runs every day, practices Yoga, attends daily mass, gives and receives Jin Shin Jyutsu therapeutic massages and avoids (whenever possible) western medicine. Four years ago Aida was diagnosed with acute leukemia and has refused any and all suggested treatments (chemo, radiation, steroids, etc.) from Kaiser Hospital. She relies on her regime of healthy living, her chiropractor (Dr. Ken Felch), and a solid prayer life. For over 6 years she has been completely symptom free. Again, “God provides.
Her faith and good works at the Catholic Worker and throughout Redwood City are humble, innocent, and done with a kind heart. If you want to get to know how to “let go and let God,” then meet Aida.
We give thanks for the goodness of Aida and for all of you, our supporters, and of course to our God, who takes good care of all of us no matter what.
Any gifts sent to the Catholic Worker in Aida’s honor will be forwarded to her dear, dear brother Fr. Ed Figueroa, who has worked in Brazil with “throw-away kids” for his entire life.
“Do not conform yourselves to the behavior of the world around you, but let your behavior change…Work for the Lord with untiring effort…Do not give up if trials come; and keep on praying. If any of the saints are in need you must share with them; and you should make hospitality your special care.” (Rom. 12)
Thanksgiving, 2020 Dear Friends, In the United States of America, we live in a house divided. Many, many of us (the Redwood City Catholic Worker included) are ecstatic that our current leader lost. Almost as many of our fellow citizens of the USA feel just the opposite. They fear that their hopes and dreams are gone with the current President’s loss. It is more and more difficult for our political spectrums to talk with one another, let alone respect one another.
At the Catholic Worker, even though we voted for change in leadership, we have no faith that the so called “new political process” will effectively address global warming, black lives matter, the massive disparity between the superrich and the rest of us, and the obscene expenditures for war (aka defense budget). In other words, we voted more against our current administration than we voted for Democrats.
Our new president will not necessarily address our above priorities!! As Christians we must try to conform our lives to the Gospels: all are equal, the poor are ambassadors of God, the rich (including Catholic Workers) will have a hard time getting into the banquet, feeding, clothing, sheltering the poor are a great way to meet Christ, and love is the answer. It’s important to remember that love at least means “DO NOT KILL.”
In our feeble efforts to conform our lives to the Gospel, we continue to offer hospitality at Cassia Street, to serve spectacular breakfasts to forty to fifty homeless sisters and brothers 6 days a week, and to share massive amounts of food with 60-80 families each Friday. We also visit homeless encampments weekly.
Since the beginning of this virus, we have shared over $110,000 in “rent subsidies” with the very, very poor because of your earmarked gifts and numerous grants from Philanthropic Ventures Foundation. Most recipients are undocumented sisters and brothers. We will continue to offer rent subsidies if we are given more earmarked money.
This THANKSGIVING we know that we are here because of God’s grace and your wonderful support. We are forever grateful. All that we are and do is a gift. Nothing we do would be possible without your ongoing support. Thank God and thanks to all of you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Larry Purcell, Ronnie Georges, Mary Jane Floyd, Jan Johanson, Aida Figueroa, Susan Crane, Aurora Thibault and J Arthur White
FOOD in any amount. We especially need frozen meals that we can share with the homeless (burritos, hamburger patties, salsa…variety is the spice of life.)
BREAKFAST NEEDS: sturdy paper plates and 12 oz coffee cups, plastic forks, frozen meals, socks, warm jackets, back packs, toiletries, deodorants, toothpaste, razors, tents, camping gear etc. One of our supporters donated a $5,000 brand new freezer. We have space!!!!
HOUSEHOLD NEEDS: paper towels, Kleenex, cleanser, backpacks, shampoo & conditioner, black garbage bags, efficient light bulbs, etc.
TRANSPORTATIOIN: Cars, trucks, R.V.’s and bikes. After housing and jobs, the next priority is transportation. Call Larry (650) 366-4415.
CHRISTMAS GIFTS: With the Virus, many of our sources have dried up. We have lots of children who love Christmas gifts. You cannot go wrong with gift certificates to Target, Safeway, Old Navy, and gasoline cards, bus tokens, etc. Call Susan or Larry (650) 366-4415.
Money to help with education scholarships ($500 to $2,000) and/or “rent” assistance.
The Redwood City Catholic Worker continues our work with the very, very poor. As Dorothy Day said, “Love is the answer.” We continue to offer hospitality and food to the poor. Each Friday, we distribute 200 bags of food to 80 families in need. Every week volunteers visit the homeless encampments throughout Redwood City. And 6 days a week we offer breakfast to about 30 homeless men and women in desperate need. In front of our home because of the foot traffic of those in need, the city has installed and maintains a mobile hand washing station and a portable toilet to help control the spread of the virus. To help families stay in their apartments, we have distributed about $90,000 in rent subsidies. All of us at the Catholic Worker are healthy so far, thank God. The following is written by Susan Crane, one of our full-time live-in-workers.
Arundhati Roy, in ‘The pandemic is a portal’ explains that “Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.”
In his Leningrad lab, Ivan Pavlov used dogs to study learning and conditioning. The dogs naturally salivated when they were given meat and Pavlov conditioned the dogs to salivate when they heard a bell, which meant that the meat was coming. During the massive flood of 1924, Pavlov’s dogs were totally traumatized; and to Pavlov’s surprise, they completely lost their conditioned responses.
We have all been conditioned to believe certain things about how we need to live. We need capitalism as our economic system and anything that communism or socialism could offer is suspect. It’s normal for 3% of the people to be incredibly rich while a huge percent of us live month to month. It’s normal for health care to be tied to a job, and for insurance companies to make gigantic profits off healthcare. It’s normal for nuclear weapons to exist and threaten the lives of whole countries. It’s normal for some to have plenty of food and for others to pick up the scraps from dump sites. It’s normal to live, knowing that we are destroying the earth, the air, and the water around us. It’s normal, knowing that “Doctors Without Borders” sends medical workers around the world, and the USA sends soldiers and weapons (about 800 bases in other countries). It’s normal to think we have good schools, good health-care and the best legal system in the world, while facts tell us otherwise. If the earth is destroyed by climate change or a nuclear exchange, it will all be legal. It’s normal to know that families are being poisoned by radiation because they live near uranium mining or weapons production sites. It’s even become normal to think of unions as being outdated, even now when more and more people are losing their jobs.
Perhaps the pandemic has given us a chance to be open to other ideas. Last March, Antonio Guterres, the Secretary General of the UN, called for an “immediate global cease fire in all corners of the world.”Could we imagine a world where we cooperate with other nations? Could we imagine that we treat others as our brothers and sisters? Could we imagine not using sanctions and nuclear weapons to constantly threaten our neighbors? Could we imagine a system where workers have agency in their workplace, and can manage the workplace themselves?
The movement and resistance of Black Lives Matter has radically changed our conversations about racism, police violence and funding for entire police departments. What was unimaginable at the beginning of the pandemic, is now part of our national conversation.
Here at the Catholic Worker House, with your help, we continue to help our neighbors and attempt to live as if we live in the beloved community. For the first time in the 40 years of our existence, a couple from our immediate neighborhood spontaneously came to help with our food distribution. Hard times create more cooperation and feelings of mutuality. We try to live as if “Love is the answer.”
Visiting several of the homeless camps in Redwood City each week has been more sobering than I had expected. People are hidden away in the bushes along the tracks and highways, living next to rodents and garbage. We help with underwear, t-shirts, body-wipes and food. It’s not much, but it is a consistent effort to affirm their dignity and humanity. Additionally, so many of you (our supporters) have showered us with snack bags, meals, socks and hygiene kits and other items that we give away including tents, sleeping bags, bikes and rent subsidies. People have stepped up to buy rice and beans, put them into small bags and bring them every Friday for the food distribution. People we have never met are bringing food for the breakfasts and other needed paper items. Teachers have brought books for the children here at the house to read. When people do hopeful things, hope lives.
We know that the food we give out in reality belongs to the people who are hungry. In our often-failed attempts to be kind and help others, we know that God writes straight with crooked lines. We ask forgiveness from the poor. We ask forgiveness from those we work with when our social skills are desperately lacking.
Love, Susan for all of us.
Food:in any amount. Rice, beans, canned goods (protein), frozen meals etc. Folding carts to carry bags of food—the elderly, especially, need these carts.
Household needs: hand sanitizer, toilet paper, wipes, black garbage bags, reuseable or paper bags for food distribution, Kleenex, Clorox, lap top computers, bikes etc. If you have a computer that needs cleaning up or repairs, call Alfredo Chorro (650-796-5713).
The Homeless: sleeping bags, tents, tarps, ropes, bikes, bike locks and lights, bike tools, jackets, sweats, socks, etc. These days we are serving breakfast to 30 + homeless 6 days a week. We need quick frozen meals (tamales, lasagna, hot dogs, etc.)
Money to help with rent subsidies for the unemployed poor including: day laborers, dishwashers, house cleaners, restaurant employees and others who are not only out of work, but don’t qualify for federal aid, unemployment or disability. We have also been asked to send $25,000 to Pennsylvania for a young, Catholic Worker family to purchase a rectory and a school from their diocese. These days, what you give to us, we will give away.
Your prayers for Fr. Steve Kelly S.J. who is waiting for sentencing after spending over 2 years in custody for non-violently protesting at a Trident nuclear submarine base in Georgia.
“God loves you, and you should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same. Over all these clothes, to keep them together and complete them, put on love. And may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts, because it is for this that you were called together as parts of one body. Always be thankful.” (Colossians 3)
Dear, dear friends, Easter 2020
Covid-19 has struck with full force on our home – Earth. This pandemic has many silver linings. There are loads of “random acts of kindness” going on everywhere. But, for me, more importantly is the opportunity for our entire world to SEE things differently. This disease has no respect for global boundaries. It is a disease without borders and must be addressed simultaneously by every country in the entire world. We must address it together. What an opportunity to collaborate! This disease turns a blind eye to the differences between the 99% and the 1%. It discriminates against no one (except perhaps the very young—thank God for small favors).
We can try to close the borders and build the walls between us and this virus will find its way around and over and under whatever we build. If we ignore the poor while fighting this virus, we should expect to see many more homeless and more and more people jammed into smaller and smaller apartments or tents. The virus will thrive among them and will spread to all of us, including the 1%. If we go back to work as usual, to “save the economy” (i.e. Wall Street), then those high tech workers will be this virus’ incubator. We will either treat one another as one people and fight this pandemic together, or many more of us will perish early and unnecessarily.
What an opportunity to see our world as one world without borders and for each of us to see all of us as ONE FAMILY OF GOD.
As springtime blossoms, I hope and pray for more and more random acts of kindness, generosity beyond our wildest imagination, love flourishing everywhere and a healthier tomorrow. For now, all of us at the Catholic Worker are virus free.
God bless all of us this Easter.
Larry Purcell, Sr. Mary Jane Floyd, Ronnie Georges, Jan Johanson, Aida Figueroa, Susan Crane and J Arthur White.
P.S. For safety sake, we have closed our shower program and our English Language School. We try to be careful (shelter in place and washing our hands). We continue our hospitality at Cassia Street, and visiting some of the homeless camps. The Oakland home for men coming out of prison and the Multicultural Institute home for Day Laborers both are thriving. We also continue our Friday food distribution to the extremely poor. Our front porch is a very busy place these days, as many families come for food bags, and others come for a meal. With the collaboration of Philanthropic Ventures Foundation, we have distributed about $30,000 in rent and utilities subsidies. This is another example of how Bill Somerville (Philanthropic Ventures Foundation) has again anticipated the basic needs of the very very poor.
Food in any amount. We have a lot of front door traffic asking for food. Rice, beans, canned goods (protein), frozen meats etc. Food for families who are out of work, food for folks on the street who need a meal.
Household needs: hand sanitizer, toilet paper, wipes, black garbage bags, Kleenex, Clorox, reusable or paper bags for food distribution, lap top computers, bikes etc.
The Homeless: sleeping bags, tents, tarps, ropes, bikes, bike locks and lights, bike tools, jackets, sweats, socks, etc.
Money to help with rent subsidies for the day laborers, the dishwashers, house cleaners, the restaurant employees and others. Our friends lost work because of the virus and will not qualify for a government check. Most of them have no plan B.
“I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.” (Matt. 25)
Dear Friends, Valentine’s Day 2020
The holidays are over and life here has settled back to “normal.” We are so grateful for all of the tremendous support we received from Thanksgiving to and through Christmas.
We live and work with the very, very poor and often see how wrong the priorities of our country are: unlimited military spending = not enough money for schools; the 1% who live lavishly = the rest struggle constantly and the poor have little hope; a wall is being built = the body of Christ is blocked from finding a place to live without starving to death or being shot….etc.
In January, I got a call from a county social worker. I did not know this woman, but she heard of us from a friend who described us as “Maybe they can help.” The social worker, due to privacy concerns, could not share her client’s name but gave us her number at WIC (#36). WIC is a terrific federal program for “women, infants and children” and I was very surprised that #36 could not get powdered formula from them or any other county agency for her infant. She needed 3 cans of formula at $20 per can. When #36 arrived at our door, she used her social worker’s name as I had suggested. In her arms was her 2 week old baby. I gave her $100 and she burst into tears – it broke my heart. How can this be? I drink scotch and she doesn’t have milk for her baby. OMG!!!! No wonder men and women go the monasteries and vow silence.
Years ago, I was at the Catholic Worker and a woman wanted two almost new mattresses from our front porch and needed help moving them to her place. I volunteered. We loaded the truck and drove about a mile to her home. The house was pretty nice and I thought: “Geez, how poor can she be?” Then she led me down the drive way past the house to a garage with a small side door. She entered first and I followed with the box spring. Inside was a garage, no car, a dirt floor and one dull light bulb hanging from the roof. The furnishings consisted of a sofa and nothing else – nothing. There were six other people of all ages standing around. This was her family. I had invaded their home. Never again have I presumed to judge who needs what!!!
Dorothy Day was right: “WE MUST ASK FOR FORGIVENESS FROM THE POOR FOR THE BREAD WE GIVE THEM.”
Love and hope,
Larry Purcell, Veronica Georges, Sr. Mary Jane Floyd, Jan Johannes, Aida Figueroa (in Brazil), Susan Crane and J Arthur White.
P.S. It pleases me that I have not gotten to the point where nothing shocks me!!!!!
All are invited: a BOOK READING by Leroy Chatfield (father of Kate Chatfield)
Friday March 20th at 7pm St. Bruno’s Church, 555 W. San Bruno Ave., San Bruno.
Title: “To Serve the People. My life organizing with Cesar Chavez and the poor.”
Food in any amount.
Household needs: large black plastic bags, laundry detergent, reusable shopping bags, toilet paper, dish soap, grocery carts for the elderly, cleanser, drain cleaner, bikes, cars, trucks etc.
Shower program: toiletries, a volunteer to do foot care a day a week (Tues or Wed. from 8:30 to 11am), sleeping bags, tents, camping equipment etc. Call Susan (650) 366-4415. This shower program meets a very real need of those who are living by creeks, in bushes, and in cars.
A house or money to buy a house for a new Catholic Worker Center. Have a free cup of coffee with Larry (650) 366-4415.
Our English Language School has enough teacher and tutors and about 60 students. All is well.
If you need a day laborer (gardener, painter, hauler, care giver, house cleaner) call Cesar at 650- 339 2794.
“And here is a sign for you; you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And suddenly with the angel there was a great throng of heavenly host, praising God and singing: Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to all who enjoy his favor.” (Lk 2:11ff.)
Christmas 2019 Dear Friends, During the early 1970’s, my brother, Jim, and I (both priests in the diocese of S.F.) joined a small group of local families (the Sack’s, the Cannon’s, the Murphy’s, the Maffie’s et al) and formed the “COMMITTEE TO SAVE CHRISTMAS.” On the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday), we went to Union Square in S.F. (the center of Christmas buying in those days) and encouraged shoppers to buy nothing for their families and friends and instead give themselves to one another in love. Our understanding of the Christmas story was that the Holy Family only had each other and that was enough for JOY to the world. Because Christmas is also a time for “Peace on Earth,” we also encouraged shoppers to send the money they didn’t spend on Christmas gifts to a Buddhist orphanage in Vietnam. We quickly raised about $30,000 for the orphans of war and called for peace on Earth.
My dad loved to buy Christmas presents, especially for kids—he and my mom had nine children and 15 grandchildren. His take on our “Committee To Save Christmas” was summed up with his quip, “Oh, so now that you are all grown up, you want to kill Santa!”
About a month ago, I was standing in line at Safeway and a 50ish year old woman said to me, “Aren’t you Larry?” I said, “Yeah.” She said, “You don’t recognize me?” I didn’t and she added, “I’m one of Juana’s children.” I knew Juana well because for 6 years or more I took turkeys, Christmas presents and miscellaneous needs to this very poor, hardworking, single mom of 5 small children. The woman in the line at Safeway must have been about 8 years old back then. As she hugged me she said, “I still remember all the gifts you brought our family over 40 years ago. They saved us!!!!”
In the spirit of the “Committee to Save Christmas,” I don’t buy gifts. But because of your spectacular generosity, we at the Catholic Worker House continue to play Santa with lots and lots of families who really have nothing. There are many ways to “Save Christmas.”
A better way than buying gifts would be to raise the minimum wage to a LIVING WAGE, or to stop flipping poor neighborhoods and making it impossible for ordinary people to own locally, or to reinstate taxes for the super rich, or to cut back on funding for the military, or to repeal “Citizens United” so that corporations can’t buy our elections, or to take steps to stop climate change….and that’s just for starters.
Since none of the last paragraph is happening this Christmas, I think we will continue to feed, clothe, shelter and educate the very, very, poor body of Christ. We will also (with your ongoing support) give hundreds of Christmas gifts to families in need.
As an old member of the “Committee to Save Christmas,” I hope that each of us will find a way this year to Love One Another and find the Other and that this will lead to Joy and Peace.
Merry Christmas to all,
Larry Purcell, Ronnie Georges, Sr. Mary Jane Floyd, Jan Johanson, Aida Figueroa, Susan Crane, and J Arthur White.
Food in any amount.
Shower program: we need shampoo, foot powder, deodorant, underwear (men’s and women’s), warm shirts and jackets, a person to do foot care once a week, tents, sleeping bags etc. A handyperson to do small repairs. Call Susan 650-366-4415
Household needs: Kleenex, toilet paper, paper towels, dish soap, Simple Green, laundry detergent, a laptop computer for college, gift certificates (Target, Safeway, & Old Navy,), reusable cloth bags for our food program.
Day Laborers: It is now possible to hire men (cleaning, gardening, hauling, painting, repairs, etc.)—call Cesar at (650) 339-2794. And you can hire women for housecleaning and other jobs – call Stephanie (650) 339-2794. Their phones are on M – F from 8am to 4:30pm.
We are still trying to raise $4,000 for two more college scholarships. Call Larry.
A house or money to buy a house for another Catholic Worker Center. Call Larry for a free cup of coffee. (650) 366-4415.
For info on our English Language School, call Pam at (650) 365-6019.