While some downtown businesses are complaining about the homeless, one downtown business—Garcia’s on Fourth and Mountain NW in downtown Albuquerque—saved the day for over 300 hungry and homeless people at St. Martin’s Hospitality Center on Sunday, November 10. The folks St. Martin’s had counted on to provide breakfast did not put the date on their calendar. When the priest walked into the shelter that Sunday morning, the kitchen was empty. There was no food and there was no one there to cook, serve and clean-up afterwards. And yet there were over 300 people hungry for the first meal of their day. St. Martin’s really couldn’t cancel breakfast.
While the Chaplain was negotiating with Garcia’s, the Congregation of St. Martin’s was doing the work of the people—carrying on with the liturgy. By the time their priest walked through the back door, they had sung the opening song, said the opening prayers, and were reading the scripture of the day. At announcement time, some people volunteered to serve the food while others volunteered to carry food from Garcia’s to St. Martin’s. While we were worshipping, the folks out hanging around in front of the shelter were taking up a collection to pay for soft drinks for 300. They took their six dollars to Lowe’s on Lomas where they bought enough kool aid and sugar to make drinks for all. When the doors closed at 10:00, the cooks at Garcia’s and the team from St. Martin’s had fed over 300 people. More important—the people at St. Martin’s—folks other people often overlook or dismiss—had stepped up to the plate.
There was another way the people of St. Martin’s stepped up to the plate last Sunday. When they heard about the broken stained glass windows at First United Methodist Church, a church that serves lunch to the homeless one day a week, they voted to donate Sunday’s offering to First Methodist to help pay to fix those broken windows—sixteen dollars in quarters, pennies, nickels and dimes and few crumpled bills handed over to a fellow downtown congregation. Homeless people helping out their downtown community.