Led by Tim Ewer, right Cornerstone Community Kitchen (CCK) volunteers serve takeaway meals, groceries, and clothing on Wednesdays from 5 5 to 6:30 p.m. Donors, include TASK, Cherry Grove Organic Farm, Bentley Community Services and Jewish Family and Children Services, enable CCK to deliver two dozen meals to home bound people, plus 25 to 30 people have been picking up takeaway meals, groceries, and clothing.
Thank you, Cornerstone Community Kitchen!
Cornerstone Community Kitchen (CCK) has been continuing its mission of addressing hunger needs in our community, but in a very different way than they did pre-COVID. They continue to gather food items from a variety of sources, including prepared meals from TASK, produce from farms, and non-perishables.
Our volunteers put these items together into take-out packages that are distributed to guests through the door that leads to the fellowship hall, where the guests are waiting outside to receive them. The clothing closet has also opened in a limited, but exciting way, with selected items available outside for people to choose from. Kudos to the CCK team who has re-imagined their ministry in light of these challenging circumstances.
On Trinity Sunday, June 16, 2019, Pastor Jennifer Smith-Walz preached on the topic “Come Holy Spirit! Make Us Resilient” from the sermon series “Revealing Resurrection.” Her sermon is based on the scripture reading “Peace and Hope” from Romans 5:1-5.
Pastor Jenny pointed out that people have many different responses to suffering, given that there are many kinds of people, different types of struggle, and many different circumstances. Some feel undone by their plight, others nurture a sense of victimhood; still, others feel shame, which leads to depression. She believes that the best option is to face our suffering, hold steady, grow more alive, wise, and hopeful.
She noted that we are suffering because of our faith in Jesus Christ and we should not get stuck in the suffering, introducing us to Luther Smith’s words “There are places in the human heart that do not yet exist. Then suffering enters in to brings them to life.” She observed that suffering is the Holy Spirit moving in us and through us. Pain creates patience, which builds character, which produces hope. Hope then brings peace because, through the Holy Spirit, God has poured love into our hearts.
Paul teaching in the Roman Catholic Church expounded on suffering and the church’s response to it. Pain leads to endurance, and we must exhibit patience, which will build up our character for peace and hope. He tells us that suffering is something that all Christians are called to expect. The pain will come, especially if we follow Christ who gave himself up for us, suffered under Pontus Pilate, crucified, dead and buried. We are called to take up our cross and follow Jesus. Even though we know it, we sometimes go to great lengths to avoid suffering or make up all kinds of excuses for our own struggle and that of others. Paul tells us we shouldn’t.
Up to 50% of our population has experienced some trauma in our homes, in school, in battle, in our churches. Suffering can be physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental. Many people don’t talk about it. They simply don’t trust anyone, especially the church, to believe them. And so they find themselves in a world of the walking-wounded – alone, stuck, ashamed, depressed, hopeless. How then do we handle suffering when something happens to us? The church’s response is to rejoice in our sufferings.
Paul encourages us not to waste the pain or struggle. In Peter L. Steinke’s words, “We waste suffering if we gloss over, deny, avoid or neglect its message . . . If however, we can learn from pain, it is not wasted, but a source of life and health.” People ask, “How is pain a source of life and health when we are under assault?” Pastor Jenny gives four responses: “When pain comes, denial and avoidance are a waste. We must either (1) look around for help – from God and/or from our community; (2) fight, (3) take flight from the struggle, or (4) go numb.
Paul’s message is that we must be immersed in God and in our community so that when suffering happens, we can look around and see our tribe and continue to see God’s love poured into our hearts as a gift from the Holy Spirit. Our community does not deny or avoid suffering. It is full of people willing to share in our struggle or bond with one another. We should practice calling on God to receive the Holy Spirit, which makes us brave, brings us together, and opens us to one another so that when suffering comes, the Holy Spirit is already in us. And when we can’t see the other side when we feel afraid, shame or despair, we must remind ourselves that the Holy Spirit will overcome, and we can share burdens with and for one another. Paul promised us that the Holy Spirit will help us in our suffering. Pastor Jenny is, therefore, encouraging us to heed Paul’s promise and call on the Holy Spirit to make us resilient.
Can we feel the Holy Spirit moving within us, pouring unconditional, eternal, everlasting love on us? If we feel it, Pastor Jenny invites us to take time to share with someone how the Holy Spirit is working in our life. If we can’t handle it, we must still talk to someone. This Holy Spirit fosters love, faith, and trust.
At the close of the sermon, Pastor Jenny invited Larry Apperson to share his story with the congregation of how he overcame suffering. Looking back on his life, Larry remembered one snowy night in Princeton, many years ago, when he cooked lots of soup and brought it to our church, wanting to feed hungry people in the area. After setting the tables and putting up the signs outside, he waited hours for people to show up, but no one came. For a long time, Larry suffered enormously from this disappointment. He had this great idea, but he couldn’t get it done. Yet, he could not let it go. Ten years passed, several things happened. Then, with the arrival of a new pastor, things started to change. One phone call from a church that needed food daily. . . . And so the Princeton Cornerstone Community Kitchen Princeton Cornerstone Community Kitchen at Princeton UMC was born. Cornerstone Community Kitchen served its first meal on June 6, 2012, and in partnership with the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) have since served 30,000 meals. In Larry’s mind, he thought he had failed, but the Holy Spirit saw that this was a good idea and was telling him not to give it up. Full of hope, endurance, patience, and not avoiding suffering, Larry has received God’s love through the Holy Spirit poured into his heart and overflowed to others.
The sermon is podcast on this webpage under the category “worship.” Here is the link
For the complete video of the June 19 service, found on Princeton United Methodist Church Facebook page, click here.
Seven Junes ago, Larry Apperson launched Princeton Cornerstone Community Kitchen at Princeton UMC, partnering with the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) to serve over 100 meals weekly, on an unconditional, no-questions asked basis. Larry plants the “Free Meals” banner on the lawn every Wednesday.
Cornerstone Community Kitchen served its first meal on June 6, 2012. Some come for the free food, some for the fellowship, all are graciously served a hot meal complete with a decorated table and a piano player in the background. TASK delivers the main dish but CCK supplies vegetables, salad, bread, and a drink, plus sandwiches, children’s breakfast bags, and produce to take home.
For the first two years meals were served on paper plates with plastic utensils in the Sanford Davis Room, the church “parlor” with stained glass windows, because the kitchen — which did not meet health codes — was being constructed. Now the meals are prepared in an up-too-date catering kitchen and served on china plates in the renovated Fellowship Hall.
“The greatest unexpected pleasure that’s come from our service has been the coming together of people from throughout the community to serve,” says Larry Apperson. Five teams from Princeton United Methodist Church alternate serving the meals, one week a month.
Now, each week, Cornerstone’s opening on Wednesday night and its related offerings depend on some 30 volunteers and approximately 75 hours of volunteer time.
Cleanup is done almost exclusively by church members. Every week PUMC member jobs include playing the piano, setting and decorating tables, running the clothes closet, and washing the pots. One school-age girl helps, with her grandmother, before and after her PUMC choir practice. Judy Miller works Tuesday and Wednesdays — she runs the Clothes Closet with the help of two PUMC volunteers. She also decorates the tables with flowers and props from her personal trove.
Community members can also sign up online for ‘one-time’ service. “I wanted to create a place where people could go to do the good things they deep down feel they should be doing anyway,” says Apperson. “Volunteering would be easy, no homework, just come and do it.”
PUMC members supporting CCK include Pam and Tim Ewer, Charles Phillips, Karen Longo-Baldwin, Karin and Bernhard Brouwer (just moved to Florida), Susan Davelman, Joan and Bob Nuse, Judy Miller, Ed Sproles, Lula Crawford, Francia Francisco, Doug Fullman, Larry and Emily Gordinier, Lori Pantaleo, Valerie Newhall, Lorie Roth, Yvonne Macdonald, Joan Klass, Larry and Helen Curtis, Karen Johnson, Bruce Henry, Chris Cox, Kate Lasko, Ichen Mei, and some young new arrivals, Alex and Izzy DiStase.
In addition, the Clothing Store operates in a spacious, dedicated room and shares the same Wednesday 5 – 6:30 PM hours of operation. Supervised by Judy Miller, the store is filled with a wide variety of neatly organized and displayed clothing and household items, where guests take turns shopping in small groups. Store volunteers manage seasonal programs for the children — selecting back to school backpacks, Halloween costumes, and Christmas gifts – carefully selected to match the child’s age and gender.
A significant number of the guests are Hispanic and some speak little if any English. Three years ago, PrincetonUMC member Karen Longo Baldwin, a certified ESL teacher, began teaching English as a Second Language classes that now meet four times weekly.
Cornerstone’s newest offering is Princeton Period Project, a community program to help girls and women who don’t have an easy, reliable, affordable access to feminine hygiene products. These products often take second seat to providing food at the family table. “We have already provided more than 51,000 feminine hygiene products to girls and women in the area,” says Gil Gordon, a member of the Jewish Center of Princeton and member of the board.
Earlier this year, the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) presented Larry Apperson with the Chuck Inman Memorial Award, honoring an individual who has made a significant impact in feeding hungry people in Mercer County.
Pastor Ginny Cetuk, who chairs the CCK board, points out that — for a minimum wage job in Mercer County, one would need to work 130 hours per week in order to make ends meet.
As a 501c3 nonprofit organization, Cornerstone does not aim to deliver a religious message. “We are witnessing to our faith through our actions,” says Larry.
On April 13 the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) will present the Chuck Inman Memorial Award to Larry Apperson. The annual award honors an individual who has made a significant impact on feeding hungry people in Mercer County. Larry will be recognized for his long-standing service at TASK and for helping set up the very active satellite at Princeton UMC.
TASK serves those who are hungry in the Trenton area and offers programs to promote self-sufficiency and improve the quality of life of its patrons. As one of 16 satellites operated by TASK, Princeton Cornerstone Community Kitchen serves 100 meals each week. On April 6, 2019, Cornerstone recorded its 30,000th meal served since beginning in June 2012.
“We are proud of the help and commitment of our partners such as at Princeton United Methodist Church,” says Charlie Orth of TASK. “It’s leaders like Larry that make change happen.”
The Maker’s Place of Trenton, a Greater New Jersey Hope Center, has launched the next phase of its ministry with a Diaper Depot. Click here to learn more about the new initiative and how you, your church or organization can take part.
Has this initiative inspired you?
Volunteer at the Diaper Depot
Help us distribute diapers and build relationships!
Sign up to help at one or more distribution days, happening every other week starting Saturday, April 13th. Join us at 1201 Greenwood Ave, Trenton, from 8:30am-12: 30 pm, on select Saturdays and Thursdays.
Register to volunteer at www.makersplace.org/volunteer.
A Netflix documentary on Menstruation stigma “Period. End of Sentence“ is the 2019 OSCAR winner for best short Documentary.
In her acceptance speech after winning the Academy Award for best short documentary “Period. End of Sentence” director Rayka Zehtabchi highlighted how the taboos around periods are a global issue, and not just in India where the film is set. Dedicating the Oscar to her students, producer Melissa Berton said the project was born because her students in L.A. and people in India wanted to make a “human rights difference.” Concluding, she said: “I share this award with the teachers and students around the world — a period should end a sentence, not a girl’s education.”
This Oscar-winning documentary, now streaming on Netflix, focuses on a group of women in a rural village outside Delhi, India, who, not having easy access to hygienic sanitary products, decide to manufacture them as cost-effectively as possible. “The taboos around menstruation in India and the lack of hygienic sanitary products lead to almost a third of Indian girls missing school during their periods”.
While lack of access to feminine hygiene products is usually associated with girls and women in third-world countries, we know that there is a need right here in the United States. This award helps shine a spotlight on the work of US charitable organizations trying to make menstrual products affordable and available to those who need them.
Churches in particular regularly receive requests for feminine hygiene items. By bringing this unpleasant situation into the light of day via this documentary, the United States has the opportunity to play a crucial role in ensuring that the needs of millions of girls and women are met.
Right here in Princeton, at Princeton UMC, we have an opportunity to contribute through the Princeton Period Project. It provides feminine hygiene products (tampons and pads) for girls and women in our community and we need to keep it going. This project is part of the Princeton Cornerstone Community Kitchen (PCCK) at the Princeton UMC. A donation box has been set up in the hallway outside the Clothing Closet in the Princeton UMC. Your donations are greatly appreciated. Click Here to Help princetonperiod.org/donate
Q&A with Judy Miller, manager of the Clothing Store at Princeton Cornerstone Community Kitchen, where she is also a board member. She arranges the table decor for each Wednesday meal, and she distributes clothing and other needed items during CCK meals.
Who gets the clothes?
The clothing is distributed at CCK dinners which are a fun place to sit and chat with folks from all different ages and stages. We have international students who come to practice their English skills, we have retirees, young families (primarily Spanish speaking), we have all ages and stages, quite a mix of people, nice people.
Under the new program, PrincetonPeriod, you are now also accepting feminine hygiene products?
Yes, we are providing tampons and pads for girls and women who don’t have easy, reliable, affordable access to them.
What’s the best part of running the Clothing Closet?
I take the job of distribution very seriously. If someone’s been kind enough to gift us with certain resources, I really try to find that next home thoughtfully to match the gifted item with the need. Sometimes that is apparent immediately and sometimes it takes a while to achieve that best match.
The donation closet is always packed full. Where do those bags come from?
We get quite a range of clothes. For the kind of store that we are, we get above average quality. Some of it comes from consignment stores that we have a relationship with. And then we have students, who treat their clothes like students treat clothes! You have to sort of laugh!
What happens to the ‘less worthy’ donations?
I do a couple of loads of laundry a week to rescue things. If they realize their potential they get to come back to the store, if they don’t, they go to textile recycling.
Can you share any stories?
To protect privacy, I can’t provide details. Most of the time the items are distributed within the CCK population, but occasionally we have an opportunity to serve an international or county need by partnering with some other agency. For example, a Pakistani student at the seminary asked if there were things she could take to her own country. So a small number of backpacks and school supplies and clothing went with her. along with a suitcase to put it all in. We had a group of our CCK participants from Guatemala who still have family – in some cases children – still in that country. They asked if there was infants and children’s clothing that would be off season to us, but in season to them, that they could send.
More recently we partnered with Witherspoon Presbyterian Church to help repair their windows. Some items we weren’t able to find home for – because of size or season or some specific feature – we passed along to enhance what they could offer at their thrift sale. That’s an example of a local use of resources sent to a different location that had great merit. In some cases, selected items sent elsewhere makes sense.
Thank you, Judy, for your dedicated service! To volunteer to help in Cornerstone Community Kitchen, click here.
Founded in 2012 as a non-sectarian ministry of the Princeton United Methodist Church, Princeton Cornerstone Community Kitchen has provided more than 25,000 meals to our guests at our free weekly no-questions-asked dinners.
A new, pioneering program – PrincetonPeriod.org – has been established to further meet the needs of our neighbors. It provides feminine hygiene products (tampons and pads) for girls and women who don’t have easy, reliable, affordable access to them. Not having these products can be embarrassing and limiting – and cause potential health risks. For information, go to www.PrincetonPeriod.org.
Donors are coming through PUMC’s doors to bring products. They are making contributions electronically (through our website) and by check (administered by our financial team).In other words, we help PCCK and all its programs by keeping the building open (lights and heat on) and also with our financial volunteers. PCCK credits PUMC this help on its website:
PCCK, a completely non-sectarian program open to the entire community, operates within the Princeton United Methodist Church (PUMC). While we are an independent Section 501(c)(3) public charity (Tax ID 46-4758389), we share a number of church resources to keep our expenses down.
Six years ago, almost all of the Princeton Cornerstone Community Kitchen volunteers belonged to the church and a loyal core continues to help faithfully. It’s wonderful that PCCK has attracted so many partners and volunteer help from elsewhere. However Larry Apperson (our inspired founder of PCCK) suggests that many more volunteer opportunities exist. Whatever your skill, PCCK has a place for it! To volunteer for Princeton Cornerstone Community Kitchen, go to www.princetoncornerstone.org