For more than two years I met with a group of writers at a salon (that's salon, not saloon) on Montgomery Street in downtown Syracuse. It was across the street and down a piece from the Samaritan Center, which provides hot meals daily for those in need.
During that time, I met several regular and occasional diners at the center. Some were street people or those that lived on the streets because of problems with addiction or mental illness. There were still others with disabilities who lived on government assistance that didn't cover their basic requirements of food and shelter. Some were passing through a time of need because of a move or a job loss or a desperate family emergency or a combination of trying circumstances. Some were reacclimating after time spent incarcerated, turned out into a world that had spun wildly ahead while they sat behind bars. All were really in some sort of pickle, and most were friendly and thankful for the good food and kind service they received at the center. Many would give you the shirt off their own backs if you needed it, but for one reason or another they found themselves in dire straits.
I am writing this to insure the 342 people who attended the Beach, Blues and Barbecue on Aug. 1 in Skaneateles that your contribution is really appreciated and put to good use.
The Samaritan Center is a well-run organization of caring people made up of a few staff members (6) and many volunteers (400 a month). Even the people I met who worked at the Samaritan really needed and appreciated their jobs and put their hearts and souls, as well as talent, into the gig.
"Most assuredly, those that eat at the center are like everyone else, heterogeneous but with the commonality of poverty. They need the help that the simple offering of food and welcome provide. The long time employees of the center are true heroes," Ann Smithwick Ferro said. Ann is a colleague of mine, who recently retired from the Samaritan.
The parable of the Good Samaritan ultimately demonstrates the importance of helping those in need, regardless of who they are and why they are in need of help. You answered that need in both your contributions and your celebration of the good things in life.
As they say, "There but for the grace of God, go I."
Ellen Leahy has moved back to Skaneateles and returned as the editor of the Skaneateles Press - she is living in the Austin Park village limits neighborhood - reach her at email@example.com or call 729-5063.