A Friday Phone Call; A Chance to Chat

By Jean Blish Siers *

Refugees receiving SoSA food in Charlotte, North Carolina

Clients receiving SoSA produce at Refugee Support Services in Charlotte, North Carolina.

My phone rang on Friday, showing an unfamiliar number and area code. The woman on the line wanted to talk about a piece I had written for the SoSA quarterly newsletter last year about our long-running partnership with Refugee Support Services here in Charlotte, North Carolina. The agency is a nonprofit that does amazing work helping newly-arrived refugees get on their feet with English as a Second Language classes, offering support in filling out job applications and school forms, and, once a week, providing fresh produce from Society of St. Andrew.

I knew immediately that she wasn’t calling to tell me I’d done a good job! She spoke quickly and was very upset. She hadn’t actually read most of the article, and was hazy on most of the details, but she felt that we as a country are taking in too many people. “We can’t afford to take in everyone and feed them and clothe them. And furthermore, why don’t they have jobs?” She was concerned about the countries that “sent them” and worried if they were safe to have here.

I suggested she might stop by the refugees’ Wednesday Help Center and visit with them. She would find them to be wonderful people who want nothing more than to build a new life here, become American citizens, and create better opportunities for their children. They do work – indeed, they work very hard, which isn’t always easy when the language and culture are so foreign.

She told me couldn’t visit the center because she lives in Florida. (I told her she should volunteer with us in Florida. We glean a lot of produce there and we’re always in a friendly race to see who gleans more pounds, Florida or North Carolina!)

We had a nice long talk, and I think she felt better about things when we were done. I explained a bit how refugees come to this country and the vetting process they go through. We talked about the aid agencies that sponsor them and work to get them on their feet as quickly as possible, preparing the way for the next group.

I told her that my mission was to get food to people who are hungry, and that I feed those who God has put in front of me to feed. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples, “ … as you did this to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me.” Jesus doesn’t qualify that or narrow it because of language or nationality or, well, anything. He says clothe them, feed them, visit them, comfort them.

She thanked me for taking the time to talk to her and I told her, very honestly, that it was my pleasure. I spend my days talking to people who love Society of St. Andrew and are passionate about supporting it. It’s good, every now and then, to talk with someone who challenges and questions me. We live in times when everyone seems increasingly polarized, and I was grateful for this woman from Florida who took the time to call me in Charlotte to talk, to learn more about what we do and who we feed, rather than simply being upset about something she had read.

Sharing food is a wonderful thing to do. Sharing thoughts and conversations is important, too.

* Jean Blish Siers is SoSA’s Charlotte Area Gleaning Coordinator.

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VOLUNTEER WAIVER

In the event I, or a registered family member, suffers any illness or accident requiring emergency hospitalization, medication, or other medical assistance while participating in a gleaning event, permission is given for any medical treatment which is deemed necessary and reasonable under the circumstances. I fully understand and comprehend that reasonable care will be exercised by the adult staff for this gleaning event to protect the safety of those involved. I understand that the field supervisor’s instructions must be followed at all times, and that I am responsible for any damages caused to fields, farms, or equipment by me/my family members not following these instructions.

Photos, videos, and other images in which I, or a registered family member, appear that are taken during gleanings may be used by the Society of St. Andrew for news coverage, newsletters, reports, displays, and for other print, broadcast, web, or electronic news or promotional purposes.

I do not hold the board, members, or employees of the Society of St. Andrew (SoSA,) or any volunteers liable for injury, bodily harm, accidents, or death of myself/my child during events sponsored by the Society of St. Andrew. Neither will I hold the person(s) who owns and/or operates the property from which we glean, salvage, or to which we deliver food, liable for accidents, injury, or death during the gleanings or other SoSA events.

For a PDF print version of this waiver, click here.

How the Story of the 12 Baskets is Connected to SoSA’s Name

Matthew 14:16-21

But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” They said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.

2 Kings 4:42-44

[…]the man of God […] said, “Give them to the people that they may eat.” His attendant said, “What, will I set this before a hundred men?” But he said, “Give them to the people that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left over.’” So he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.