Dear Friends and Family,
One of the most rewarding parts of our ministry is to witness the generosity of the poor. In neighborhoods full of broken homes, drug addiction, and crime, many children and teenagers live a life without supervision or a concerned parent. They are not sheltered or regularly fed. The confused depravity of the neighborhood is their school. No one knows the plight of these children better than the neighborhood mothers, and we have met many mothers who feed and take in children whenever a crisis arises. They act without hesitation, not counting the cost. They willingly give their own dinner to a hungry child and make an act of faith that God will provide for them and their family. God has given us the honor of being an emergency lifeline for these mothers. Your charity supports their charity.
A friend of the ministry experienced a very hard fought conversion, but after about a year, she succumbed to her old temptations. She met a man who promised many things and told many lies. He knowingly infected her with HIV, made her pregnant, robbed her, and fortunately left her. These new realities will stay with her even after she returns to the Church. Sin multiplied her crosses. Only Jesus can make the crosses light.
Our love for one another, like God’s love for us, must be larger than sin. We cannot let temporary and almost inevitable setbacks break our heart or our friendship. We need to encourage and bring people back into the body of the Church. It is fundamental to ministry to continue being someone’s friend even if they fail and to let them know you will still be their friend if they fail. In this way, we image the Father’s love.
During our Thanksgiving outreach, we met a family with no food. They had to use the Thanksgiving bag and gift card we delivered for the following day. We immediately invited them to our food pantry and gave them about two weeks’ worth of canned goods. Thanks to the generosity of Erin Dublin, who won the Georgetown Turkey Trot, we were able to give them a prize turkey. They are a small family with a mother who is nearly paralyzed by depression. This paralysis keeps her from taking advantage of the many organizations set up to help the poor.
We met another family in a similar situation. Their home is always dark, and the children are neglected due to the mother’s depression. After an altercation, the oldest daughter murdered the mother’s boyfriend. She was released after a year in jail to raise her own child and help her mother. People in situations of great need rarely wander into a church or look for real help. They must be searched for. The people who know of families in such desperate straits are their neighbors, and the way to find them is by networking in a neighborhood or through door-to-door outreaches. When they are discovered, we need to bring Jesus to them through our words and actions.
Thank you for making these outreaches possible, and thank you for making the follow-up and everyday ministry of A Simple House possible.
We have just completed our ‘Everything but the Bird’ Thanksgiving outreach to over 150 families in three separate neighborhoods. It was made possible by volunteers, your donations, and the generosity of Visitation High School. A special thanks goes to Jessica Hensle for coordinating the outreach. A special thanks also goes to officer John Reardon and his daughter Teresa who used a patty wagon to deliver turkeys to some of the families we serve.
It was unfortunate and distressing that we ran short of Thanksgiving bags and were unable to fully cover our target neighborhoods and the other families we serve. In order to correct this problem, we are hoping to create and distribute 175 Christmas bags. We also hope to angel and deliver gifts to over one hundred children and mothers. We need your support to make this possible.
Since the last newsletter: Our empty food pantry was replenished by food drives at Visitation High School and Archbishop Carroll High School. Volunteers visited six universities to attract applicants for next year’s missionary fellowship program. I gave a talk at the Newman Center of George Washington University and the University of Kansas Catholic men’s club. We also received visits from members of the New Meadow Run Bruderhof (an intentional Christian community in Pennsylvania) and students from the University of Mary Washington.
Our guests from the Bruderhof provided a delicious dinner and good conversation for volunteers, and they donated books on forgiveness for our Thanksgiving bags. The students from the University of Mary Washington visited A Simple House as part of their Urban Plunge. During the visit, they received a tour of the roughest neighborhoods of Washington, DC and assembled Thanksgiving bags.
In late November, we welcomed Ryan Hehman as a new live-in volunteer. Ryan graduated from the Catholic University of America last May and has done ministry with ‘The House’ at CUA, Andre House in Phoenix, AZ, and Exodus Youth Services (one of the inspirations of A Simple House) in Washington, DC.
Thank you for all the blessings you shower upon us,
Clark Massey with board members Luis Cartagena, Kristina Massey, Michael Ortner, Richard Realbuto, and Fr. Adam Ryan, OSB, and with live-in volunteers Laura Cartagena, Jessica Hensle, and Ryan Hehman.