Saturday, January 16, 2016

Christmas at the Marquard

Katherine Pashkevich

Two nights before Christmas, all of us volunteers were able to gather together at the home of Steph J, our community assistant. As we were all seated around the table after dinner, someone suggested we go around and share our favorite Christmas memory. It was so special to hear everyone’s unique stories and traditions and to be able to share mine, as well. Thinking back on that night now, after Christmas has passed, I know that years down the road when I am again asked to share my favorite Christmas memory, Christmas at the Marquard will be at the top of my list.

Holiday wishes from a few of our guests.
On Christmas Eve, I was hanging out in the lobby with our guests during dinner. I didn’t expect to feel this way, but it was really difficult for me to be around all of my new friends on this joyous holiday. My heart hurt for them – that they had nowhere else to go, no family, no traditions, no presents waiting under the tree. Of course, I was so happy to see them at the Marquard, but really, it was heartbreaking to know that Christmas was just another day in their routine. Especially on a holiday that we all have such rich memories of, it was incredibly frustrating to realize that many of our guests cannot say the same. Needless to say, I was pretty upset for the rest of the evening.


Some of the community had decided that we would go to midnight mass later that evening. It was during Christmas mass that I finally found some consolation for the feelings of despair I had felt earlier in the day. We began to sing “Away in a Manger,” a song I have always loved, but which carried a whole new meaning when I heard it this time. The lyrics of this song consumed my thoughts throughout mass and reminded me that our God is a God of the poor. The story of Christ’s birth is a story of poverty. He was born into a family that did not come from wealth. He was born in a manger – a feeding trough for animals. During his ministry, Jesus chose the company of the poor. The truth is: if Jesus were walking around on earth today, he would come to the Marquard; these would be his people. Jesus has a special place in his heart for the poor – for those without food, money, homes, or family. He empathizes with our sufferings and our limitations. Christmas is a season especially for those who are having a difficult time in the world. It is a time when we celebrate God’s coming to earth and becoming weak for us so that we might grow stronger. Christmas is a season of hope.


Modeling our new Christmas pajama pants :)
So, even though I was away from family and went without traditions, this Christmas – more than any other Christmas I’ve experienced – truly felt the most like Christmas. So often, the idea of Christmas is completely absorbed by consumerism, leaving little room to think about much else. However, Christmas at the Marquard has changed my views on the holiday and my ideals for how I want to celebrate Christmas in the future. Christmas is not about asking for more and waiting for these new gifts to fulfill our desires. Rather, Christmas is about being aware of what we already have, being thankful for the blessings in our lives, enjoying the people God has planted in our lives, and giving hope to those who cannot do the same.


I have to admit that this was the hardest Christmas I’ve had to face. But I can also say, without a doubt, that Christmas at the Marquard is my new favorite Christmas memory. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Giving Thanks

Stephanie Kuipers


With Thanksgiving just behind us and Christmas fast approaching, we’ve reached the time of year where we're all called to reflect on what we’re thankful for. When you’re working with people who have less than you do, it’s not hard to come up with answers to that question. I’m obviously lucky to have been born into the stable situation that I was, and I’m lucky that so far, I haven’t faced any major threat to that stability.

Scotty making coffee for our guests.
But, even though there's certainly nothing wrong with being thankful for what I have, I’ve always hoped that my service experience would be more than just a fuel for my gratitude about my own life. It would somehow feel cheap if the guests were merely reminders to me of how thankful I am for my privilege. And it’s worked out so far, because they are much more than that.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been touched by the thoughtfulness of the people I serve here. Helping me carry loads of laundry up the stairs, asking me if I’m okay as I awkwardly try to de-escalate a conflict, surprising me with a candle on my birthday, gladly serving dinner with us when we’re short on part-time volunteers – these are just a few examples of the compassion I experience daily, even when I do little to earn it.

I used to be taken aback to see this kindness from our guests. Then I realized that my surprise revealed my own false assumptions about people living in poverty. If I were without a home, or struggling to take care of myself and my family, or spending days with people passing me by in the street – if I was in survival mode – I always thought I wouldn’t have any emotional capacity left to empathize with strangers. If I ate at a soup kitchen, I imagined that the staff working there would be the last thing on my mind, so I assumed it would be the same for the people I serve. But guests continually show me how wrong I was, how much they do think about us. I talk about “the people I serve,” but they serve me at least as much as I serve them, and in ways that go deeper than supplying food and clothes.

The other full-time volunteers that I work and live with are likewise impactful, and I can’t write about thankfulness without mentioning them. I love being part of a community that cares about our guests at least as much as I do. Seeing my fellow volunteers consistently handle difficult situations with patience and compassion makes it easier for me to do the same. Struggling through the gray areas that come with working in emergency services is less overwhelming when others are there to process it with you. That’s not to say there are never any challenges that come with living in a house full of 11 people. But if it weren’t for our community, I have no doubt that the year would be much harder for me than it is.

Thanksgiving community night.

That is what I’m thankful for: all of the beautiful human beings I’ve met here. And I could still go on to include former volunteers who continue to be a support network for us, or staff members who make us feel welcomed and valued, or part-time volunteers who donate their time and meals to the kitchen. It turns out that the most powerful part of this experience is simply the people it brings into your life, and I know I’ll continue to be thankful for that long after the year ends.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A Day in the Life: Kitchen Edition

Katie Bauser


The Marquard Soup Kitchen…a place where not only people go to get a meal, shower, or laundry, but also to see familiar faces and feel welcomed and cared about. Working in the soup kitchen is a blessing that I wish everyone could experience. We not only get to provide services to our guests, but get to know them for who they are and not just what society perceives them to be.

It is extremely rewarding to do the work that we do because you know that people are relying on you for their needs. Our days can definitely get crazy, but it is the smiles and words of appreciation that you get to see and hear every single day that make it worth it.

So what is a day in the kitchen really like? It is filled with so much more than just cooking...

Katie shows off the kitchen's biggest ladle!

We start in the kitchen at 11am every day and have 3-4 of us full-time volunteers working. On Mondays and Fridays, we get some bread, peanut butter, jelly, snacks, etc. ready for lunch. At 12pm, guests are allowed in the building and can sign up for laundry and a shower. One person begins on getting laundry and will do a maximum of 10 loads. 

Aileen finishing up a load of laundry.

Women's showers begin right away and one of us facilitates them. The guests are allowed to make themselves a lunch and hang out in the dining hall from 12pm-3pm on Mondays and Fridays during showers. Once women's showers are done, the men begin, and someone else facilitates that.

While all of that is going on, someone else is in the kitchen preparing dinner. Common main dishes may include casseroles, Italian beef, BBQ chicken, ham over rice and beans, or spaghetti. We work until 3pm to get the meal prepared, and then from 3pm to 4pm, we go on break. 

Heating food is serious business.

Once we come back down at 4pm, we complete any last-minute things for dinner, such as wrapping silverware, setting up tables, cooking any quick food, etc. Part-time volunteers arrive around 4:30pm, and they serve the food. We try to open doors for our guests at 4:15pm so they can come in, get a number, and watch TV or hang out.


Katherine checks to see whether the chicken is up to temp.

A group of part-time volunteers begin to serve dinner.

Dinner goes from 5pm to 6:30pm and guests are called in by their number, which they receive when they sign in. We typically serve 90-120 people but it can get up to 140. I love dinner time because you get to see all the guests come in and get a good meal. It’s nice because we also get time to talk with them and see how their day was.


Katie and Enrique ready to greet guests during intake.

Once dinner ends at 6:30pm, we clean up the kitchen and make sure everything is put away for the next day. We typically finish around 7pm.

Typical note-writing exchange with one of our maintenance guys, Scotty.

We serve dinner every single day of the year, weekends and holidays included. Our laundry service is on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Guests can come and take a shower on Mondays and Fridays. We also get clothing donations so we can provide guests with clothes as needed. It’s a busy place, but the services are definitely needed and get well-used.

At the end of the day, it is our guests that motivate me and make me excited to come to work. To be such a consistent face to so many people is such a reward. My eyes, heart, and mind have been opened in ways that only this experience could create, and for that, I’m forever grateful and blessed.


Group picture of the 2015-16 kitchen crew.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Working for a World Without Soup Kitchens

Aileen Mae Ryan


Growing up, I never worried about not having enough food. Every time I opened the pantry, my favorite meals were plentiful – pasta, bananas, PB&J sandwiches. I could eat whatever and whenever I wanted.

Three months into my service year at the Marquard soup kitchen, I’m rethinking my relationship with food. For too many of our guests, food is not plentiful; food is impossible, because it costs too much for guests to make their own dinners. For too many, their dinner at the Marquard is the first time they’ve eaten all day. Many don’t know what or when their next meal will be – quite a different experience than eating whatever and whenever.

Although I can’t change my privileged relationship with food, I can change my understanding of our guests’ relationships. On one hand, I understand that the food I make genuinely helps our guests. Whether I’m baking casseroles, chopping apples, or shredding chicken, I know our guests will directly benefit. Since we’re open for dinner every night of the year, I know our guests can count on me and my fellow volunteers. Our guests are some of the kindest and most compassionate individuals I’ve ever met, and I’m honored to work with such wonderful human beings.

On the other hand, even though my work feels meaningful, I wish this line of work wasn’t needed in the first place. I wish our guests didn’t have to survive on soup kitchens. I wish they could afford meals for themselves and for their families. It’s like I’m constantly throwing life rafts to sinking ships; if the ships didn’t keep sinking, we wouldn’t need any life rafts.

Knowing that people are starving on the streets, I know that I must keep serving at Franciscan Outreach. At the same time, I don’t need to accept that people are drowning. I don’t need to accept that the ships will always sink.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

What Makes a Place a Home?

Emily Davis


On July 20th, I left the place I had considered home for 21 years to find a new one. I moved halfway across the country and took a giant leap of faith. Moving in and getting to know my new community, city, and work was overwhelming and definitely an adjustment. 11 new people. Different countries. personalities. stories. We all had a lot to learn. 

During opening retreat and orientation, we talked about values, spirituality, and groceries. As well as, CPR, identity, and homelessness. Throughout all of these things and my first few nights working in the shelter, I found myself reflecting on the meaning of the word "home". All of my life I had considered my beautiful, suburban yellow house in Bowie, Maryland, home and while I did go to college and consider that a home for awhile, it was not my home. So what made this place my home? Was it because I was born there? Or because it is where my family lives? What happens when I move to a new house? Is that home?

As I attempted to answer all of these questions, I realized how much of my identity I had tied to that yellow house and how leaving it and finding a new home had been difficult for me. However, what was most difficult about this realization, was recognizing what my definition of home would mean for those who are homeless. In facing the many challenges that had led the guests we serve to homelessness, what else were they dealing with because they lost their home? If leaving my home, with the ability to build a new one was so hard for me, what was losing a home like for our guests?



This realization lead me to recognize the importance of providing our guests, not only with basic shelter, but also with hospitality. Franciscan Outreach has made it possible for us to be a part of providing shelter and given us the opportunity to create a new type of home for our guests. We have to help them to find some refuge from whatever they are dealing with. And just as my community members are helping me to rebuild a new home, I am there for the ladies at the Franciscan House. Hopefully, this year I will build incredible relationships with the ladies and become someone they can depend on. We will be together for holidays and hard times and I am more than excited to walk along their journeys with them. We are all building a new home and a new family together.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Meet the 2015- 2016 Community!




Full of laughter, compassion, and personality, we present to you the many characters that make up the 2015-2016 Franciscan Outreach Community

2015-16 Community-Back Row (L to R): Enrique, Rob, Tim, and Dan.
Front Row: Katherine, Konny, Aileen, Stephanie K, Emily, and Katie.

Stephanie Japczyk, originally from Chicago, is serving as this year’s Community Assistant. After graduating from Marquette University, where she studied International Affairs, Spanish, and Peace Studies/Conflict Resolution, she joined the Border Servant Corps program and served as an Economic Justice Advocate in Texas. Last year, she completed a service year with the Lutheran Volunteer Corps in Chicago where she served as the Program Assistant at the Chicago Religious Leadership Network.

Serving at the Marquard Center we have:

Katherine Pashkevich grew up just outside of New Orleans, Louisiana. She graduated from Auburn University in Alabama, majoring in English. Like a true southern girl, she loves SEC football and sweet tea!

In addition to serving others through her time at Franciscan Outreach, Aileen Ryan, from South Elgin, Illinois, loves writing poetry and spending time in prayer and meditation. Her faith keeps her grounded, while poetry lets her fly. Fun fact about Aileen: in her dreams she is always flying; it’s rare for her feet to ever touch the ground.

Stephanie Kuipers joins us from Lansing, Illinois. She graduated in 2013 from Valparasio University with a degree in Psychology. She is very passionate about disability rights. A fun fact about Stephanie is that she was homeschooled until junior year of high school, and then went to a small school with only 80 students total.  

Enrique Juan Paredes Gebhard is from Nuremburg, Germany. While he grew up in Germany, his father is actually from Chile! Enrique enjoys spending his time playing sports, hanging out with his friends, and maintaining his many beehives.

Katie Bauser a.k.a. Kbau$ is from Atlanta and a graduate from Georgia State University. She loves the city life and being a social butterfly. One day she hopes to travel abroad and help children in orphanages.

And at the Franciscan House of Mary and Joseph we have:

Tim Husting is from small town in the southwest of Germany. He loves sports and playing bass. In Germany, he played in a soccer club and hopes to be able to keep that up in Chicago. He is looking forward to a fun year at Franciscan Outreach!

Rob Schaumburg comes all the way from Wuppertal, Germany (the only town which transported a baby elephant in an overhead-railway and it fell down – it survived though). Making people smile even when they have no reason to is his dedication. In 2013, he spent a year in Houston, TX working with criminal juveniles and CPS kids in a second chance facility called Gulf Coast Trade Center. His hobbies are boxing and playing videogames. He is also known for his endless love for chicken, because when he feels bad, that’s his soul medicine. 

Konny Dick is from a small town near Kiel in the North of Germany. She just graduated from high school and enjoyed vaulting, a form of gymnastics on a horse. Konny also likes to hang out with friends and meet new people. That’s why she was interested in a year in a community. Also, she occasionally has a dark sense of humor that is used most often against cats.

Emily Davis is from Bowie, MD and just graduated from Mount St. Mary’s University with a degree in International Studies. She enjoys basketball and words of encouragement, which is great considering she was on her University’s cheerleading team. Emily tends to fill her free time with friends and laughter. She enjoys intellectual conversation, knitting, and swimming; however, the Red Cross would warn against doing all three simultaneously. Aside from laughter and jokes, her true joy comes from her relationship with Christ and sharing him with others. She looks forward to future and the many opportunities that lie ahead; trusting in His plan.

Daniel Adrat is an eligible bachelor from New York. He received his degree in sociology from the majestic hills of St. Bonaventure University, where the friars and rowdy college students exist in perfect harmony. He loves eating and drinking unhealthy things and going to baseball games and sometimes does both at the same time. He loves to meet new people and serving is a great way to do so. His mom calls him her S-U-N.

Back Row (L to R): Konny, Stephanie K, Aileen, Katie, Emily and Katherine.
Front Row: Enrique, Tim, Dan, and Rob. 



To keep this us all year, continue to read our blog, like our page on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.










Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Living & Serving in the Way of St. Francis

Exciting News!!!

We published a book in collaboration with Franciscan Service Network and Franciscan Passages!  There are 4 entries from FOV alums (Mike Callahan, Hannah Pinter, Emily Ford, and Zach Buchel).  This is a powerful reflection took connecting the writings of St. Francis with the practical, lived reality of service and community life!
"Current volunteers will find in this book an invaluable tool as they reflect on their weeks, months or year of service.  Alumni of year of service programs will recall their ministry and experiences.  People considering volunteer service will read that each of us can perform extraordinary service when we volunteer as a community." -From the Introduction

There are three ways to purchase a copy: