STANDISH, Maine – The Saint Joseph's College men's soccer team participated in a very worthy cause when the side volunteered to help with the Monday Meals Thanksgiving Dinner at the North Windham Union Church on the evening of November 21st.
Players and coaches attended the event and helped with setup, turkey carving, serving and clean up. The Thanksgiving Dinner – attended by approximately 150 people each year - is among the largest events hosted by the Monday Meal service, which is coordinated by Food and Fellowship, Inc. Everyone is welcome and is free to the community to attend.
MORE ABOUT MONDAY MEALS:
In the fall of 1998, a community forum called Churches and Community Concerns was organized to focus on local churches and their potential as facilitators of social change. The coordinators of the event were the Reverend Doctor William Howden of Windham Hill United Church of Christ, the Reverend Rick Small of North Windham Union Church, and Erin Swezey, Director of Community Services (a component of Campus Ministry) at Saint Joseph's College.
As a result of group work at the forum, the idea for a community meal supplementation program took hold. The local food pantry (Windham Family Services) was serving sixty families a month on a regular basis and no hot meal program existed for the community at large. The Windham Hill UCCC Mission Committee pursued the possibility by contacting local churches and their leaders. All contacts enthusiastically supported the concept of a regular meal for local people. "Food and Fellowship" became the buzzwords of the Monday Meal, recognizing that social isolation is its own form of spiritual poverty, particularly among the elderly.
In March 1999, the loosely formed Monday Meal group held its first meal at Windham Hill UCC. Throughout the first year, the program gained many regular attendees and were surprised to note how many people were coming beyond the borders of Windham. In July 2000, the Portland Press Herald attended one of the meals and subsequently published an article about our project. The program continues today and serves four to five Monday Meals per month year round. Current attendance averages 50 people each Monday.
The mission of the Monday Meal is three-fold:
• To provide food and fellowship for people in the Lakes Region, seeking to serve those living with poverty, hunger, and social isolation;
• To educate ourselves, and others regarding the root causes of poverty, hunger, and isolation in rural areas;
• To work collaboratively with community partners in challenging the systems that keep poverty, hunger, and isolation in place.
Saint Joseph's College is Maine's only Catholic liberal arts college, providing a supportive, personalized and career-focused education for more than 100 years. From its 474-acre campus on the shores of Sebago Lake, the College offers more than 40 undergraduate programs to a population of approximately 1,000 students. Saint Joseph's College Online provides certificates, undergraduate and advanced degrees for working adults through an online learning program. For more, visit www.sjcme.edu.