By Grace Brick
Tuesday, June 6
When reflecting on my time at My Brother’s Kitchen, an outreach of YMEN in North Lawndale, the word that comes to mind is, “mercy.” In my opinion mercy can have a negative connotation, for example when one’s sports team is beating the other by a lot or like when the Cardinals were beating the Cubs a lot in Game 7 of the World Series. On the other hand, mercy for me is so much more than forgiveness, another common synonym. Mercy, rather, is as simple as being there for someone whether they are in need of something physical such as food like those who come into My Brother’s Kitchen are. I would like to share two stories where I have seen mercy in action while serving at My Brother’s Kitchen.
The first is Trey. He is a volunteer around the same age as me and another volunteer with whom we shared time serving. Trey was there the first week that I volunteered, and he was so very open and outgoing. I am not a morning person whatsoever, yet that did not stop Trey from welcoming me and showing me the ropes of the place when I first arrived. Once the clients started to come in, he was not afraid to joke around with them. He really enjoyed being there, which I believe, made the other volunteers and the clients enjoy being there as well. Before I knew it, I was there joking around with those who came in just like he did. Trey shows mercy by making everyone feel welcomed.
The second story I would like to share is about a guest at the kitchen. Let’s call him, “Walter.” Walter has been at My Brother’s Kitchen every one of the many weeks that I have been there. I don’t really know much about him personally, other than the fact that he likes to pray with others. Each week, before we start to serve, we pray. Last week, Walter prayed for all of us. His prayer was simple, yet very meaningful. He simply prayed in wishing everyone a good rest of the day, and in addition he blessed the food, and thanked God for the volunteers there. I have also had several conversations with Walter. At the end of every conversation, whether it be about the weather or my future endeavors, he always ended the conversation with, “I’ll pray for you”. Walter shows mercy in that he is genuinely happy to be able to have the human connection of talking to other people and being around anyone who actually wants to get to know him.
Working at My Brother’s Kitchen has not always been easy, but it definitely has been rewarding in the sense of mercy. Those who come in experience mercy whether they are volunteering, laughing along, or serving those who come in. Pope Francis says that “a little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just.” I could not agree more with that after my experiences at My Brother’s Kitchen.
To learn more about YMEN and My Brother’s Kitchen, visit ymenchicago.org
Grace Brick is a 17 year old graduating senior at Trinity High School in River Forest, Illinois and an active OSP Member. Next year she will be studying Education and Theology at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin.