Being of Service—Through Sandwiches! (Feature Friday!) #BestOf

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Sunday, June 28, 2015

Touching. Moving. Poignant. Whatever you call it, Brother Dano’s Sandwich Ministry is all that. And more. I wrote about this excellent food ministry a year ago. It still touches me as much, as I reread the post. And, all because a high school kid saw a need and decided to do something about it. Would that more people would be that proactive!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, June 27, 2014

loaves-and-fishes feed the hungry

Being of Service—Through Sandwiches! (Feature Friday!)

“Have you ever felt invisible before?” This hand-lettered statement on a plain piece of paper stuck out at me like a sharp thumbtack on the floor, pointy side up. The photo of this printed sign is one of the images on Brother Dano’s Sandwich Ministry website. Three years ago, Dano was a high school student in the north suburbs of Chicago. He realized that there were 100,000 homeless people in Chicago, just a matter of miles south of where he and his family lived. 17 percent of those people were—are teenagers. Just like Dano. These homeless people often feel as if they are invisible. Uncared for. Less than nobody.

Dano and his parents had an idea. Three years ago, they came to the Church Council at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Wilmette. They got permission to start a sandwich ministry, with some help from the church. They decided to pack dozens of lunches once a month at St. John’s, which were then brought to the Night Ministry in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. From there, the bag lunches were distributed.

For those who don’t know, the Night Ministry is an outreach to the night community in Chicago—a ministry reaching out to the hidden underside of society. The Night Ministry offers assistance to those suffering from homelessness and poverty, in a number of ways. Not only the food outreach, and also a Health Care Bus, a temporary shelter, and assistance for pregnant teens and young mothers.

But back to Brother Dano and his sandwiches. This ministry took off at St. John’s Church in Wilmette. People of all ages started to get involved. Not only on the day they made the sandwiches and packed the bag lunches, but also in donating food items and financial gifts. Bread, bananas, cookies. Plastic bags, deli meats and cheese. Even young children can help assemble parts of the lunch, and put cookies and bananas in plastic bags. This has become a service project for all ages.

Many people, both in the congregation and from outside the church, are now involved in this worthwhile service opportunity. The price for each lunch is only $1.00, and people are well fed for at least one meal in their day. Pastor Joe McInnis of St. John’s Lutheran Church says, “What began as a simple idea has become a beloved ministry of our whole church. And in July, Brother Dano’s Sandwich Ministry will reach a milestone. They will reach and pass 10,000 sandwiches—made by volunteers here over the past three years, and passed out at the Night Ministry.”

Dano is now away at college. This ministry has developed a life of its own. God bless the worthwhile efforts of so many, making such a simple yet tasty thing as bag lunches. And thank God for Dano, for thinking of the great idea in the first place.

(For further information, check out Brother Dano’s website: )


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(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

(also published at

Being of Service? That’s Family Promise! (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, September 26, 2014

Credit - Anna Pereia Circles of Inspiration

Credit – Anna Pereia
Circles of Inspiration

Being of Service? That’s Family Promise! (Feature Friday!)

I wondered what big thing was going on at my friend’s church, every few months. Then I asked. The answer? Family Promise!

My good friend, Pastor Joe McInnes, filled me in. His church—St. John’s Lutheran, in Wilmette—is one of the host congregations for Family Promise Chicago North Shore, which helps homeless and low-income families become financially, sustainably independent. (The formal name for this worthwhile activity at the church is Interfaith Hospitality Network.) This organization is nonsectarian and interfaith, and has an excellent track record at doing what Family Promise does best: mobilizing local community members to come alongside of homeless and low-income families, helping them get back on their feet.

Loss of a breadwinner’s job, an extended period of illness, a sudden accident or even death in the family. Any one of these can be devastating to an individual or a family going through some traumatic event, or even series of events. As someone who has worked as a chaplain for most of the past ten years, I can easily see how suddenly a reduction in standard of living can happen. Even overnight, in some cases. The Family Promise website says it best, in giving us a brief, thumbnail sketch of their activities:

“We recognize that poverty is a multifaceted problem that requires a multifaceted response. We respond by integrating educational outreach, smart programming, effective policies, and the hands-on work of thousands of volunteers. We provide food, shelter, and support services for homeless families. We provide advice and advocacy for at-risk families to prevent their becoming homeless. And we educate people about poverty and the means to combat it.”

Pastor Joe is enthusiastic about how many parishioners are involved in this worthwhile program at St. John’s Lutheran Church. As he mentioned, once every three months, St. John’s offers both meals and housing for up to fourteen people. And, that’s for up to one week. Plus, what about the wonderful volunteers who gather to offer food and hospitality! The excellent location of St. John’s Church, one block from the Metra train station in downtown Wilmette and along several bus lines, offers the clients and friends of Family Promise many options. It’s good to have options.

This is a wonderful way to be of service to others. To offer the gift of hospitality and generosity, and show the love of God to others in a very tangible, loving way. What an awesome way of being kind!


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