Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sunday "Service" in Waukegan

Academy of Our Lady Catholic Church in Waukegan, IL

Kind of a beautiful fall day in Waukegan, wasn't it? But there are a lot of people in need in this particular area of Chicagoland. Although this is a photo I took of Academy of Our Lady, my family and I were at Christ Episcopal Church across the street, to help staff a soup kitchen for about 80 residents of the surrounding town.

These kinds of social service activities can run every day of the week because there are that many people in need. I saw mostly men, but a few women and children as well. I yearned to know their individual stories, but as the Gravy Man behind the serving table, I only had time to ask each person if they wanted it on the mashed potatoes, the meatloaf, or both.

Many expressed gratitude for the carb-heavy meal, but their bodies betrayed the kind of diet they typically consume -- high in fat and low in fruits and vegetables. One woman in particular caught my attention: she insisted that she was going to walk to Canada after the meal was over. "I've had it with America and I'm leaving today!" Perhaps she was an example of the high percentage of homeless who are mentally ill.

Beyond the momentary help we can offer these fellow citizens, what can we do as a society to address these larger issues of physical and mental health? 

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