Nourishing the hungry feeds Hinsdale woman's soul
Last updated 12/18/2019 at 6:31pm | View PDF
Breaking bread with loved ones is perhaps the most cherished ingredient of the holiday season - for adults anyway - as millions will take to the roadways or skies this coming week to gather around tables teeming with festive victuals.
For many, however, the struggle to make ends meet means such a feast is mere fantasy. But Hinsdale's Mary Lyne and her team of soup kitchen ministry volunteers at Grace Episcopal Church work to make it reality for dozens throughout the year.
Every other month, the group buys, cooks, delivers and serves meals to people and families in need at a church in Aurora. Today, they will feed upwards of 100 soup kitchen clients with a Yuletide spread.
"(We serve) turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans. We do a salad and a dessert," Lyne said.
Preparation started yesterday morning, with a trip to Sam's Club to gather the components. Several volunteers then spent yesterday afternoon fixing each dish in Grace Church's kitchen to nourish today's diners. Lyne joined the outreach about five years ago and was asked to take over its leadership last year.
"I've always enjoyed volunteering, trying to get involved and give back," she said. But she admitted it was surprising to witness the level of need for basic services that exists even in suburban Chicago.
"The first time I went out (to the Aurora church), I didn't really know what to expect," Lyne related. "I was really touched by the clientele there. It's a lot of working poor."
The clientele is predominantly adult men, she said, but the holiday meal is typically attended by more women and children.
Lyne has included her sons in the ministry over the years. Her middle son, Charlie, is home from college and will accompany the team to Aurora. She has also relished the relationships she's developed with the senior volunteers.
"It's been a nice ministry for me personally, working with some of the older people in our church. It's nice when you make connections with people who aren't in the same stage of life that you are," said Lyne, then laughed, acknowledging that she might not be the "younger" one anymore.
She keeps in shape playing tennis, both traditional and paddle, and has also contributed her time and talents to the Hinsdale Junior Woman's Society, Hinsdale Historical Society and The Community House. The holidays for her are about family.
"I can't wait for my kids to come home. I really do miss them so much when they leave," Lyne said of her two collegians. "It'll just be nice to all be together."
She said the soup kitchen has a family-like feel, uniting with her fellow volunteers and giving her the opportunity to see familiar clients each time they visit.
"If you have a little, if you have a lot, we're all on this Earth together and you've got to help each other out," Lyne remarked. "It's guaranteed to get you in the holiday spirit."