BEST SOUP KITCHEN - 2005
www.camillus.org A man yelps as rabid crack dogs gnaw at his belly from the inside. The old, lost mind of another thinks he hears whispers through the rotting track marks of a filthy needle spiked in his arm. Hunger and pain. Death is welcomed here. A beaten mother ushers her children through the shadows of broken souls spread out on the hard concrete. She's seeking light and some soup at the inn. The putrid smell of body fluids, alcohol, and cigarettes engulfs them as they walk by. No one blinks -- some out of fear, some out of chemicals. At city hall it's worse: All eyes are shut tight. For almost twenty years elected officials have been squabbling over moving the inn. It's not pretty, you see, and you can't make money with the inn nearby. But Angel Gonzalez (a city commissioner, not an angel) blocks the innkeepers' plans to build a new, better refuge. Not in my neighborhood. The light at the inn flickers but keeps shining. It always shines, as it has for 45 years, despite enemies from without and from within. Someone's stomach growls. Not Gonzalez's. Commissioner Regalado, where will they go? Commissioner Winton? Commissioners Sanchez and Allen? Each day more than 1100 meals must be prepared. It's still not enough. The light at the inn flickers but keeps shining. It always shines, especially from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. That's when everybody who can fit inside the inn is served a nourishing meal -- by live angels.