Eyes prepared to see

Published 10:25 pm Friday, June 20, 2014

Twenty-five years ago, Magdalena Barnes visited the Salvation Army and saw something that changed her life. She saw a group of down-on-their-luck folks eating soup and sandwiches, and she quickly realized the extent of the Salvation Army’s need for help feeding the poor.

She recalls being asked at the time whether her church, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, could contribute to the effort. Thinking about it, she responded that the church lacked resources to help every week, but that she would round up people to help on a less-frequent basis.

Twenty-five years later, the feeding ministry she helped found at St. Mark’s has grown to involve the city’s three other Episcopal churches, as well, and it has become a regular part of their schedule as the four Episcopalian churches share and rotate duties with churches of other denominations from around the city.

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The churches are a “godsend,” Keanna Johnson, the Salvation Army’s senior activities coordinator, said this week. “They are not afraid to step up. I would say they are the backbone of the community, because of what they do.”

In May, 583 Salvation Army clients were served 687 meals, according to Johnson. The clients come to the facility on Thursdays and Saturdays from noon to 1 p.m., and volunteers like Barnes are on hand to feed them meals that have been prepared with food the volunteers have provided.

People like Magdalena Barnes make Suffolk a better place. They do so by being willing to give of their time and energy to help other people. They do it by their selflessness. And they do it by the simple act of looking around with eyes prepared to see a need.