Belated Thanksgiving wishes to all of you from all of us at the GCW! The great orator, William Jennings Bryan, once said: “On Thanksgiving Day, we acknowledge our dependence.” Everything we do at the GCW, we know how dependent we are on you–our volunteers, our guests and friends, our contributors. For all that you do to hold us up and encourage our work, we give thanks. We cannot do it alone; we have created a place of welcome, compassion and care, by working together. So in this post-Thanksgiving time, we say thank you–thank you for your prayers and your support, for all the notes of encouragement; for your steadfast presence at the house and in our lives; for the manner in which each of you embody compassion every day in your relationships, at work, in your families, in your places of worship, and elsewhere; for your financial support of the GCW, the donations and contributions you make, not only from your surplus but often at personal sacrifice; and finally thank you for being part of the GCW family.
FIRST THURSDAY ROUNDTABLE AND POTLUCK DINNER FOCUSES ON EDUCATION: We’re excited to have Roundtable favorite Diedre Houchen with us to lead this month’s Roundtable. The topic for this month’s Roundtable is, “Limiting or Lifting: Educating our children for the world we want or the one we have?” We’ll have a broad discussion about the purpose of schooling, how that purpose is actualized in public education and current trends in educational policy. We’ll ask the question, what is the heart of education and how do we make sure we guard that vision for America’s children? Diedre is a doctoral student in education at UF, former coordinator for the youth-oriented Food and Farm Preservation Project at Florida Organic Growers, and author of the article “Uneasy Justice: Apartheid, Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa.” If you can bring a dish to share, great! Roundtable is on Thursday, from 6:30-8pm.
ART FOR ALL SALE: Join us for our second “annual” holiday sale and open house! GCW members, volunteers, guests and friends from the street, under the direction of local artists and crafters, have created a variety of beautiful and unique artwork and crafts this fall. Part art therapy, part cottage industry, part celebration of creativity and community–the process and results have been enjoyed by everyone involved. The creations are eclectic and employ skill, attention and creativity to transform used, everyday items into something beautiful and useful. All proceeds go to support the Gainesville Catholic Worker and participating artists. These items make great holiday gifts while supporting the dignity and creativity of the artists and crafters. The sale will take place on Saturday, December 3 and Sunday, December 4, from 1-5pm both days at the Green House of the Gainesville Catholic Worker, 218 NW 2nd Avenue. Please help us advertise the sale by spreading the word, inviting your family and friends to come, forwarding this email, posting on Facebook, etc. If you want to help at the sale and open house, let us know! We especially need help with donations of light, Christmas-style finger foods for the sale/open house. Let Kelli know if you can help out by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BREAKFAST BRIGADE HELP: We don’t have anyone signed up to help this week at the Breakfast Brigade on Friday, 4:15-7am. Let us know if you can make it and help out!
What a week of wonder Holy Week was for the House. First, there were two great Coffee Houses with delicious food served from Karen Biery’s kitchen. Then there was Diedre Houchen’s high school English class helping out with the cafe – a warm, interesting and interested group of young people led by a very special teacher. They chopped, stirred, kneaded, served and ate lunch, after which they gave out “goodie bags” made by a sweet student and cafe volunteer from St. Francis High. Later in the week, along came a literal roomful of Easter baskets made by students at St. Pat’s. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and neighbors brought home traditional baskets to kids in need. And adults were given baskets with toiletries, playing cards, paper, pens, and other treats. It was an amazing week, and we were so happy to be able to share in the generosity of our community.
Here’s something for you, if you’re interested! Years ago, we visited the Church of the Savior in Washington, D.C. and were intrigued. Their model of community and their balance between reflection and action is both a challenge and an inspiration. We recently became aware that they have a “blog” – Inward/Outward – where they post short, daily reflections from writings of folks like Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Clarence Jordan as well as by their pastor Gordon Crosby. Good stuff! You can sign up to receive them daily by email if you like that sort of thing (Kelli does).
Thank you again for all the ways you help The Green House do what it does. Hope to see you soon.
Kelli and John
After a long, long winter, it seems like Spring is actually here! Farmers have been donating twice as much food to the house, and the seeds we’ve planted for our tiny front yard garden are sprouting. In addition, the intrepid Bob the Gardener is committed to hauling water to grow a few things in our former empty-lot garden. Our friend Karen regularly brings by homemade casseroles and healthy desserts for the coffee houses. Folks eating at the house really appreciate the community effort involved in the food we serve. And it tastes really good…
We have some extra help rolling in this week, too, in the form of high school volunteers on a field trip to Dorothy’s Cafe. Friend and supporter, Deidre Houchen, is accompanying a group of her P.K. Yonge students who will help prepare the soup and bread as well as serve for the first hour and a half. They read in class the book Same Kind of Different as Me, a bestseller about the friendship between a well-to-do family and a homeless man. I read it this winter as well and was impressed by the depth of humanity the book was able to give both parties. In our small way, we hope that experiencing Dorothy’s Cafe offers something of that to folks who come to serve or to eat.
Time and time again, we’re reminded how important it is to actually know our neighbors, especially when our decisions affect them. The healthcare debate has brought this into sharp focus (more on this later). Choosing what we purchase also draws us into connection with people we may never see but whom our decisions affect greatly. UF student Emily Flynn’s group “Gators for a Sweatshop Free Campus” is hosting two former garment factory workers, Gina and Lowlee, who used to produce clothing for Nike. Come hear their story on Wednesday, March 31 from 7-10pm at MAEB 211 on campus and/or come meet them in person on the Plaza of the Americas earlier that afternoon between 11:30 and 1:30.
May this Holy Week be one of blessing, insight, and caritas.
GCW ANNIVERSARY PARTY ON OCTOBER 4: Each October, we celebrate the beginning of the Gainesville Catholic Worker community. We started 9 years ago, October 2000, in a little house (Jeremiah House) just two blocks from our current home. We feel it is important to give thanks and celebrate with all of our friends and supporters who have been essential to keep this house going. Whether you are near of far, we invite you to join us for food, music, some speakers, and more from 1-4pm, Sunday, October 4. We’re excited to have the JustFaith group from San Juan Del Rio
Church over near Jacksonville join us that day and provide much of the hospitality, but we also want to encourage everyone who can to try and bring some food or drink, potluck-style. We are so hopeful that many of you will join us.! So mark it down: Sunday, October 4, 1-4pm.
EDUCATION ROUNDTABLE: This Thursday, from 6-7:30pm, we’re happy to have with us Diedre Houchen, good friend to the GCW, mother, teacher and activist. Diedre has a background in education, anti-racism work, sustainability and community-building. Diedre will be addressing issues around education, our educational system and how race and class factor into our educational policies and priorities. We hope you can join us! It is a potluck dinner so bring something to share if you can!
NEW TRUCK FOR THE GCW: Just over a year ago, our old truck gave out. We made do with the Pathfinder, but frankly, for so much of the work we do–hauling garden equipment, picking up food from the farmers’ market, moving people into apartments and so on–a truck is so, so, so much better. And to our great delight, Jon Meinholz, a regular volunteer with us and parishioner of Holy Faith Catholic Church, donated us his old truck a few weeks back. We are so grateful to Jon and for what this means for our work at the house. Kelli wrote a nice blog entry about Jon, his truck and caring for things last week. You can see the truck and read more by clicking here. Thanks so much Jon!
DAYS OF AWE AND PEACE: Today is officially the International Day of Peace/Prayer for Peace. The organization I work for, Pax Christi USA, is sponsoring actions and prayers and other events to mark this day throughout the country. If possible, we ask everyone to take a moment today and to pray for peace in our world. Also, these next few days are called the “Days of Awe” in the Jewish calendar, marking the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Kelli recently wrote about the connection Jews make between this time of year and the work of “mending the world” – click here to read her post. And to our Muslim friends who just completed the month of Ramadan, we give thanks for your witness!
WE NEED BLANKETS, SOCKS: Even though the weather hasn’t turned yet, we’re in need of a handful of blankets at the GCW. We have folks regularly come by looking for something to cover them for the night, and we’re plum out of blankets to give away right now. Last week we got three requests and were able to find a sheet, old tablecloth and some fabric, but it’s nice to keep a few blankets on hand. If you can donate an old one to the house, it would be much appreciated. AND at St. Augustine Catholic Church and Student Center, the good folks on the Christian Service Committee are collecting socks for us to give out to our guests and visitors to the house. Foot hygiene is a big deal for homeless folks and we’ve instituted a “swap-a-sock” program at the house where people can give us their dirty socks and we’ll give them a clean pair in return. There is a nice bin (courtesy of Kimberly) in the vestibule of the church for folks to drop off new socks for us to hand out.
Hope everyone has a great week and we look forward to seeing you at the house!