By Dan Pezzola, FC 19 Syracuse
As the story goes, minutes before Pope Francis became pope, a Cardinal from Brazil whispered to him, “Don’t forget the poor.” As you know Pope Francis has not forgotten them, he has embraced them and so I try to do the same. In undergrad at The Catholic University of America, I was in charge of leading students on homeless foodruns. I led around 20 students every Friday to a park right around the corner from the White House to have a conversation and share a meal with the homeless, but we always called them our friends on the street. The students got to know our friends and embraced them, just like Pope Francis. It was amazing to see the looks of joy and happiness on the students and our friends on the street.
Now as I serve with FrancisCorps, Assumption Food Pantry has that same feeling. Not a day goes by where I do not feel at home or welcome. My main job is to check people into the food pantry. By doing this I have to make sure they only come once a month and live in the area that the pantry serves. The pantry serves around 500 families a month and over 50 volunteers help make the pantry function. The friends I have made at the pantry have some amazing stories and come from all over the world. Some families are from the Congo, some from Ghana, some from Vietnam, some from right here in Central New York, but all are our brothers and sisters in God.
The people who use the pantry are amazing and I could not ask for better people to spend my time with. On my first day, they were all so welcoming and wanted me to succeed in my time there. Some now come just to say hi and ask how I am enjoying my time. I help out at the soup kitchen when I am not busy at the pantry and I get to see a lot more people there. They have all gotten to know me and now we all joke around and have some inside jokes. This morning when I was walking in, a couple of the friends I have made said, “Here comes trouble!” I naturally laughed and joked back saying, “I’ll go home!” we all laughed for a couple of minutes and it was a nice way to start my day. The memories I have from this food pantry are some I will never forget and I am excited to see where the year will take me. I have a feeling that when it does come to a close, the joy and love I have experience will make me wish I could stay here longer.