Our 5000 Club food ministry began in the spring of 2006 as an effort to provide the hospitality of a weekly evening meal to those who in live in our neighborhood, including those without a home to call their own. The program quickly grew to where we are serving close to 200 meals a week, thanks to a strong corp of volunteers. They range from members of our cathedral and other area churches to individuals who simply want to help. Join the effort. Volunteers are always needed, particularly cooks. Read more below.
TEN YEARS OF MEALS
On Tuesday, June 7, the 5000 Club celebrated its tenth anniversary. Michael Bootes, one of the coordinators of this ministry, shares these Fat Tuesday Every Week moments:
It was a few years ago when we asked Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition leader Josh Spring, “What was the reputation of the 5000 Club on the street?” Josh shared that among our guests the weekly meal at Christ Church Cathedral is known as “Fat Tuesday.” We take that in the celebratory rather than nutritional sense. And then once while standing in line to collect food for a disabled guest, we overheard a conversation behind us to the effect that “it can be hard to find a place to sleep, but Cincinnati is a good town in which to find food.” If only, or once in awhile, consider seeing what a Fat Tuesday meal looks, feels, and tastes like. Every Tuesday.
It was clean-out-the-fridge/leftovers night on week 19, first Tuesday in May. We served 144 guests. Our numbers fluctuate roughly correlating with with the arrival of benefit checks — our numbers drop early in the month and are up late in the month. One of the contemplative pleasures of the “every Tuesday” part of our work is recognizing the changing faces among our guests. Perhaps one third of those we see have become familiar, steady visitors for many months. Perhaps another third are occasionally with us. Among the remaining third, there is a steady stream of new faces — some for a single time; others to become regulars. We can only hope that the majority that we no longer see are not with us for good reasons. Consider visiting at least once if only for the contemplation of the stream.
It takes a gang of volunteers to operate the “well-oiled 5000 Club machine.” There are about 30 jobs involved. Most Tuesdays some of the volunteers double up. The mild anarchy of cross-training, territory, and volunteer attendance is more fun than anxiety. It is a wonderful mix of about one third “steady-eddies” who are there most weeks; one third occasional veterans; and one third new or special visitors. Some volunteers “stick” and return at least for a while. Some join us for long intervals. Some come when the spirit moves them. Some are groups on a volunteer outing. Some come and some go in an evolving and renewing gang full of friendships and mostly good humor. Only the Hobart dishwashing crew are “unionized,” but they have very flexible admission standards. We write to tell you that we have found work, especially on the occasional 200+ guest nights.
The 5000 Club needs additional cooks to lead the preparation of our Tuesday night dinners. We have recipes, training, procurement help, a wonderful kitchen, and a loyal group of kitchen helpers. The work any one week involves picking a menu, listing quantities of food for our procurement workers to order, leading the volunteer kitchen help on Tuesday afternoon (starting around 3 pm in preparation for a meal to be served at 5:30 pm). The rewards of providing even one meal to our appreciative neighbors are immeasurable! Contact Michael Bootes if you have questions or to tell him you are ready to join our volunteers!