By Kim Supermutt Goodman
When I was a kid I was deprived of many things. As a teenager, food and utilities were some of things that I could not get. To escape the woman who gave birth to me (my abuser), I would leave home and roam the streets, because I had no means to do anything else. One Sunday when I was 17, I made my way downtown, where I noticed a camper sitting on Public Square passing out food. I was hungry, so I went up to them and got a bagged lunch. I opened up the brown bag and saw that it had a bologna sandwich, a pop and cookies. After everyone received a bagged lunch, we were able to get more sandwiches. I ended up getting 2 bologna sandwiches and 2 PB & J sandwiches and I felt as if I were in Heaven!
Each Sunday I returned downtown with the hopes of seeing the camper, which later became a trailer. This never failed me. In the winter, there was also chili or soup, in addition to the sandwiches. I was happy because many times on Saturdays I did not have an opportunity to eat. Each Sunday in the winter I would take a container to gather as much soup or chili as I could. Each Sunday I ate and brought home a container of chili or soup, a couple bologna sandwiches, and about 6 PB & J that I shared with the woman who gave birth to me. The chili was very good and it had macaroni noodles in it. The soup always had a chicken noodle base but sometimes bologna was added to the soup. That was the first time I had bologna noodle soup, but it was good.
When I was homeless, I’d go to the trailer to eat and would collect a couple of PB & J sandwiches for later. That trailer got me through a lot. When I was no longer homeless I’d go to the trailer, from time to time, for old times’ sake. When I was downtown working the Browns games sometimes I would stop at the trailer to get a cup of coffee and a PB& J. One time when I was working it was raining, Bill who operated the truck gave me a Browns’ raincoat.
When I started to do better, I stopped going to the trailer because I didn't want any more bologna or PB&J sandwiches. I ate enough of that stuff when I was homeless. I wanted to eat more high class. Recently, I was working the Browns game and I did not make any money that day. I was cold so I decided to stop at the trailer and get a cup of coffee to warm up and to see if they had soup or chili. When I walked up to the trailer, Bill looked very happy to see me. He gave me a hug and asked me how I had been. We chatted for a while. He gave me two bagged lunches, a bowl of chili, and an extra sandwich. Before I left, Bill gave me another bowl of chili and a bag with three PB &J's in it. Bill gave me a hug and said, "Don't be a stranger."
I am not a big fan of bologna or grape jelly, but for some reason, those bologna sandwiches and PB&J sandwiches tasted so good to me. Maybe it is because they were made by people with compassion in their hearts and given to me by someone who was concerned with my well-being. When I first met Bill and his camper, I was just a food-deprived teenager. For a whole decade I depended on that trailer for food. Then after that I showed up occasionally for a visit. Now that I am doing well, I am still welcome to get food from the trailer, and still receive the same warm welcome as I did when I was in need.
I am so thankful and grateful for Bill and the Bethel Temple Church in Parma! They operate the Brown Bag Outreach Program that feeds the homeless and the hungry. They do not just feed the hungry, they take the time to get to know each person they serve on a regular basis. They also make attempts to meet their needs if they can. They pass out food and offer smiles, hugs, and handshakes to people who do not always receive these things. If you do not have supportive family members in your life to make you feel special, these little things that Bill and his church members do will make you feel special.
Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle March 2017 Issue 24#1