Answering the call to feed the hungry

Not just burgers and beans on the menu for a recent barbeque at Nativity Parish in Longwood, this gathering also had generous helpings of the Corporal Works of mercy. A dozen people arrived on a sunny, summer weekend to cook for hungry strangers. 400 meals were perfectly packed with watermelon and coleslaw to boot. All of it then taken down to the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida in downtown Orlando. The parish has been doing this every year for nearly 30 years now.

Lee Kozlowski, her husband, and her boys have been volunteering with this program since the children were in elementary school. “I wanted them to learn about giving more than receiving,” she said. On this day, her now adult son joined with his wife, and Lee’s two grandsons.

The founders of the program, Tony and Jeanne Walters, are lay Franciscans who have since moved to Deland. They left the Kozlowski family in charge. Lee joked, “Jeanne tricked me. She asked me to take over. I wanted to help, but not be responsible. Then they moved.” She laughed and added, “It’s hard work, but it’s our pleasure to serve them. When we see their faces, it’s priceless.”

The team also packed up peanut butter and jelly sandwiches so the homeless could walk away with another snack. All of this thanks to faithful parishioners who made generous donations.

“It teaches me gratitude,” Kozlowski explained. “I have such joy when I am feeding them. Then it’s sad when I leave. I feel guilty when I see people sleeping on the sidewalk. Sometimes I wonder ‘Why me?’ I guess I’m lucky. He (God) chose me to help.”

By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic – June 25, 2018