Sweet Harmony: Lunches and Music for our Homeless Friends

October 27, 2018

Dear Chatham High School Key Club, Coffeehouse Project , Washington Avenue School and intrepid Stanley Congregational Church family and friends:

Sign Up for Chatham Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for an AMAZING Bridges Outreach run to Newark on this very rainy and chilly Saturday morning.

It always starts with the lunch bags. Decorated bags mean love and WAS’s K-3 students did a great job with messages: “choose kind,” “I love you, “you are awesome,” and many, many more. I was so proud to bring these to the lunch making session with CHS Key Club members on Friday. Their families donated the turkey, bread, cheese sticks, fruit, granola bars and drinks we needed. Around 20 high schoolers, led by the tireless Paul Dannenberg, gathered and pumped out 266 lunches in about an hour.

Four of these teens joined a crew of eleven to bring the lunches, hot chocolate and chicken noodle soup to several stops in Newark. The rest of the crew included Stanley’s Pastor Bernd Weishaupt and other church and community members. A very special addition was The Coffehouse Project Inc.’s Becca Kaian and John Fitzpatrick who drove their own van with guitars, a keyboard and microphone. This was a first, serenading and involving our homeless friends with music while we offered them food.

At our first stop near Penn Station we met Ricky. He saluted my Marines cap and said he couldn’t serve in the military because he had to work his farm in North Carolina and hunt deer for his family to eat. We gave him several lunches, some socks and a t-shirt. He enjoyed the music and went over to join Becca and John in “A Horse With No Name.”

At the Martin Luther King Blvd stop more people showed up. The rain got lighter. We served men, women and a few children. The kids heard the music and went over to investigate. The musicians let them hold and try the instruments. Mr. Jackson and Duke, two homeless friends, joined in on “I’ll Fly Away.” It was Mr. Jackson’s 51st birthday today and he commanded the microphone to offer thanks.

Bridges’ run coordinators Dave and Cyprene led us to our last stop at the YMCA where families were attending a Halloween party. We set up in a large room to offer the last of our lunches, soup and hot chocolate. Pastor Bernie joined Coffehouse Project in Elvis’s “Blue Suede Shoes.” Some of the children and adults started bopping along to the music; the little ones were so cute.

Today taught us that decorated bags make a difference, that music makes our food taste better and that homeless friends are just friends. One teen said she had been told to stay away from homeless people, not talk to them. Today she learned differently and plans to share that lesson. All four Key Club members asked to come again! Thanks to all of you this super rainy was definitely rainbow worthy.


Lucy Malatesta

Bridges Run Leader, Stanley Member and WAS Special Education Paraprofessional