Urban Promise

Is this Dan Higgins Wood Flooring Warehouse or a local high school? On this particular afternoon it was both, when the Juniors and Seniors from Urban Promise Academy, along with the lunch club mentors, had an onsite visit to Dan Higgins Wood Flooring Warehouse in Medford. This was all part of the continuing growth opportunities presented by Urban Promise with the monthly lunch club, a chance for students to meet with local business leaders to “pick their brains”. Students were treated to a tour of the business and how it operates, along with an animated explanation by Dan on how he started the business, suffered through many growing pains and finally managed to organize a successful business thanks to the efforts of many and a faith that God’s plan was being played out. Of course lunch Club wouldn’t have been complete without Dan showing off his amateur culinary skills with a family style lunch of baked ziti, Caesar salad, fresh bread, and his son Nick’s famous chocolate chip cookies, all favorites of the students over their years at Urban Promise Academy. The students could not have been more attentive, mannerly, and pleasant, helping make it a good time for all! A special thanks goes out to Dan’s staff for becoming caterers for the day!

Giving Thanks

Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, creamed corn, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pies; what does this all add up to? Thanksgiving Dinner? My midnight snack? Yes, but more importantly as you can see in the attached photo, it’s a chance for young folks to learn about serving others as part of their lives. Our many young helpers this month aging from 9 to 17 were all smiles while dishing out all the delicious foods prepared by our many chefs for the people who really needed a hot meal and some warm feelings. Of course there were plenty of adults on hand to carry out the many kitchen tasks and help with the dishes, but I get a particular joy out of seeing these youngsters give up their Sunday evenings once a month to help show that our next generation (that’s not a Star Wars reference) wants to see Camden continue to rise from the rubble and become a great city again. Maybe one of these kids will be a future leader in making that dream come true. So thank you all for helping on this, our 10th Thanksgiving meal and our 115th dinner served at St. Paul’s, totaling well over 10,000 plates of food supplied, prepared, served and washed by you; a group that truly walks the walk! Thank you so much for being part of one of the best parts of my life; serving in Camden.

“Lacking in light”

One of the disadvantages to living in a city with narrow streets and tall buildings is that the sun sets behind the buildings before it actually sets, making it seem darker earlier than it actually is. But if you jump on your bike and pedal away from the buildings in Camden like these Urban Promise students, you’ll find some beautiful places to watch the sun set. Monday’s ride, led by Tabby, Alan and Brandon took us from Camden to around the Cooper River where we could see the sun set over the Camden County Boathouse, back down the trails along Admiral Wilson, and back through the city to our home campus. Of course being the adventurers that these ambitious students are, we stayed a little long and road back home to Urban Promise in what some might consider “the dark”. I say we were just “lacking in light”; glass half full or half empty, depends how you look at it. But a big thank you to the students for dragging me out on another fun ride for some fresh air and exercise. Can’t wait to see what we do next!

Soup Kitchen

After being kicked out of Camden while the Pope visited Philly, it was nice to be back to doing what I do best; standing around watching everyone else work! Just kidding, I did a few dishes too. But I have to admit that after missing a few soup kitchen dinners this summer due to travel and then September being shut down, I was really happy to be back and see everyone, both the folks we serve and all you great cooks & servers!
Thank you all for your delicious food, we had plenty! Funny story; one of the groups cooked meatloaf by mistake, but it worked out great, as we had enough food to freeze the meatloaves and use them this coming weekend. Funny how even miscalculations work out in our favor when we serve others! All the meat looked great and you guys should have a mac & cheese cook-off with all the creations I saw! I already judged the desserts and a certain coffee cake that disappeared into the kitchen definitely finished near the top!
And thank you also to those who came to serve, even the ones who absconded the coffee cake with me! We had a few new helpers this month and they stopped to thank me before leaving, which made me think, who should thank who? Everyone who cooks or serves helps this run so smooth, so I thank you folks. But I also thank the folks who allow us to serve them, helping fulfill my life with purpose beyond my own wants. I think we all gain from these monthly dinners!
You guys are the giant Reese’s the rich neighbor gives out on Halloween!!!! (gotta go, heading to 7-11 for some candy now!)

20 miles of trail riding

Nothing like escaping to the country where the leaves are turning the most beautiful colors, as if God is painting every leaf individually. Watching the magical fall sunsets over the water makes me wonder how this sunset is going to outdo yesterday’s. Biking out in the woods and stumbling upon an old Inn just finishes off the trip with a great setting for a well deserved rest. Are we in Vermont? Connecticut? Actually we just crossed the bridge and biked up Forbidden Trail along the Wissahickon Creek, a wonderful hidden treasure where the noise of the city disappears and the scenery is the best around. This was just another of the rides planned and led by our ambitious students for an after school activity the other day with a total of just under 20 miles of trail riding under their belts before the sun went down and so did the temperatures! Nice job to all; where we going next?