Synod youth and young adults invite disadvantaged Clevelanders to community meal
Youth and young adults attending General Synod in Cleveland played host to local homeless people by serving dinner early Saturday evening at the Global Center for Health Innovation.
Chris Knestrick of the Cleveland Catholic Worker Community, which partnered with the UCC to connect disadvantaged people in the community with the event, thanked more than 100 youth gathered in the lobby of the facility.
“There are 7,000 homeless people in Cleveland,” said Knestrick, noting that inclement weather reduced the expected turnout for the meal. “That’s a sin. We gave out 120 tickets for this meal, but when it’s about to rain at any moment and you risk losing everything you own, you don’t want to walk down here for a meal.”
Knestrick assured attendees that leftover food will be shared with local shelters and those who work with area homeless people, then introduced the youth to Carl Cook, program manager with The Metanoia Project in Cleveland.
“Cleveland is blessed to give out free meals, free clothes,” said Cook, noting that the event had originally been scheduled at the Free Stamp monument downtown. “The most important thing is the freedom to improve the relationship with the homeless – one person at a time.”
Cook said the issues of poor education and homelessness are not related.
“Education has nothing to do with it,” said Cook. “I know a man who has a doctorate in theology, and he lived under a bridge. You’d never know it by looking at him.”
Prior to the meal, Abby Martinage of Alexandria, Va., suggested to fellow youth that they consider donating their umbrellas – which had been given to them earlier in the day for their parade in and around the Cleveland Convention Center – to their guests at the table.
“These people don’t have a place to stay, and it’s been really, really rainy,” she said. “The people attending Synod could afford a flight, so I thought the least we could do at the community meal is offer a little extra help with the umbrellas.”
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