To the Editor:
November 30, 2018
Dear Chatham Cross Country, Washington Avenue School, Bob Breen and Chartwells, Stanley Church and Chatham Community family:
This week’s Bridges Outreach run to Manhattan celebrates 10 years of Chatham Cross Country’s commitment to a team service project of serving and bridging the gap between us and our homeless neighbors! In 2009, with a sophomore on the team, I asked Coach Patrick Barry if I could introduce a voluntary service project, soliciting food donations, gathering the athletes to make 200-300 brown bag lunches, and delivering them to homeless friends with Bridges Outreach. Fast forward ten years and I have cycled three athletes through Coach Barry and girls’ Coach Julie Guerriero. I am grateful that these two have created a team culture of caring that has allowed this project to continue.
A Bridges Outreach run is a team effort and this one included the K-3 students at Washington Avenue. The children were told that not everyone has a nice meal every day or a warm place to sleep at night. We asked them to decorate brown bags with positive images and messages, to add love to the lunches. All 200 bags were great but one of them stood out. First grader Mia wrote: “I will love you forever. I love you to. I hope you lillk this luch. I hope you find a nice hoom.” Pure poetry!
Thursday, Chatham Cross Country gathered at Stanley Church to make 200 lunches, food donated by team families and other community members, condiments courtesy of school district food service, Chartwells. Coach Barry was present as he is every year, setting an example for the team.
Friday evening, four Chatham High School volunteers, two seniors from Mt. St. Mary’s Academy, and six adults including current and former team parents and Stanley folk took the lunches to Manhattan. Stop #1 in Chinatown was crowded; sixty men, women, and children lined up while volunteers set up tables to serve them. We brought them hot chocolate and soup to eat while they waited. This mostly Chinese speaking group was kind when I tried out my terrible beginner Mandarin. I’ll do better next time!
Stop #2 had twenty friends waiting, several were familiar faces. Arthur is a Marine veteran. He had good news, that he was medically cleared to return to his career in helicopter maintenance! We joked around with King who appreciated the gloves Bridges run coordinator Rob gave him but said he would really like Michael Jackson’s famous glove because he could sell it for a lot of money. Another gentleman introduced himself as Bishop Desmond Tutu from South Africa! Run coordinator Tobias asked me to speak to Louie. Louie didn’t make it over to the line; he was lying on a step under some scaffolding, wrapped in a blue blanket. I called his name and he poked his head out. He thanked me and gave me fantastic news to share with a Bridges volunteer friend. He said, “Tell Joan I am moving to an apartment on Monday.” I couldn’t help thinking back to Mia’s bag, “I hope you find a nice hoom.”
Thank you everyone for a beautiful evening of love and hope. We can do so much together.
Lucy Malatesta – Bridges Outreach Run LeaderNovember 30, 2018