The UNY mission carried out through potatoes
This past fall, The Society of St. Andrew with the help of over 100 volunteers distributed well over 150,000 pounds of potatoes throughout Upper New York with potato drops at Rose UMC, Endwell UMC, Boonville UMC, and the UNY United Methodist Center. Over 40,000 pounds of potatoes were dropped at the UNY Methodist Center’s Mission Central HUB and area food pantries, churches, non-profits, families, and individuals came to pick them up.
Judy Craigmile, a lay member at Phoenix United Methodist Church, picked up 400 pounds (eight 50-pound bags) of potatoes. She’s in charge of the church’s free laundry ministry and distributed many of the potatoes to families she met through this ministry. She set aside two 50-pound bags of potatoes for Paddock’s Landing, a residential facility for disabled and/or elderly adults.
Judy met Karen Vakula a few years ago at a rummage sale the church was hosting. Karen is a resident at Paddock’s Landing and now a very active member of Phoenix UMC.
Speaking of Karen, Judy said, “Karen is very committed to doing things for Christ despite having disabilities. She feels like she’s beyond her disabilities. Together, we decided to use one of the 50-pound bag of potatoes for mashed potatoes and serve that among other traditional Thanksgiving fixings at a sit-down Thanksgiving meal in the dining room at Paddocks Landing. And Karen agreed to distribute the other bag of potatoes for residents’ personal use.”
Karen said she divvied up the potatoes into 10-12 bags and distributed them to residents that wanted them and then left a few bags in kitchenette. She said, “Anything in the kitchen is free game!”
Karen expressed the gratitude felt among the residents; “Everyone at the building was so excited to get the potatoes especially during the holidays.”
The Thanksgiving meal that Phoenix UMC volunteers served in the dining room at Paddock’s Landing was on Sunday Nov. 24.
Judy said, “Our church decided to do this because so many of the residents don’t have families and feel lonely and many simply don’t have the ability to get together with family members.”
Karen said, “The thought of having a plated Thanksgiving meal and to be waited on by such nice people made people feel a little bit better about being stuck here.”
Over 30 residents and family members enjoyed the hearty meal. As guests were seated, a Phoenix UMC chorus member, Cindy Saarie, sang classic hymns like “Great is thy Faithfulness.”
The food was kept hot on nine warmers and in two crockpots in a tiny kitchenette.
The service was better than most restaurants.
Lexy Dutcher, a young Phoenix UMC member, took orders from each individual sitting at the table (choices included turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, squash, peas, homemade apple sauce, and dinner rolls. Dessert included an assortment of over a dozen pies). Judy dished out generous helpings of each food choice on individual platters and Lexy brought them to the guests.
Phoenix UMC pastor, Justin Hood, jumped in to help. Pastor Hood, Lexi, and Judy had a lot of fun.
When commented how amazing Judy was at working in such a small kitchen; Judy responded, “I know, but I love a challenge.”
The three of them wore small latex gloves and Justin’s barely fit over his hands, but he took it in jest with a pun, “Nothing stops us from serving, not even tight gloves.”
The mashed potatoes were one of the biggest hits of the meal. They were peeled the Saturday before and cooked fresh by the church organist, Susan Badeau, who is known for phenomenal cooking,
Helen, an elderly woman was one of the most social guests. She commended the church on putting together such a wonderful meal. She said, “I normally don’t like mashed potatoes, but these are very good.”
There was enough food being served for all the guests to have seconds if they wanted and they all were able to take leftovers to their apartments to enjoy a warm home-cooked meal again during the week.
Pastor Hood asked for prayers for a continuing relationship with Paddock’s Landing. He said, “This is a perfect space for fellowship. We are doing what we can to make disciples and I feel that offering hospitality first is a good approach and then wait and see where Jesus takes us.”
The potatoes used for Paddock’s Landing residents’ personal use and for a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner were gleaned in Maine, salvaged by the Society of St. Andrew, dropped at the UNY United Methodist Center’s Mission Central HUB, picked up by Phoenix UMC member Judy Craigmile, and brought to Paddock’s Landing. Dozens of United Methodists were involved throughout this process; all these individuals helped carry out the UNY mission of being God’s love to our neighbors in all places.