April E-Newsletter

Dear Friends,

April was volunteer appreciation month, and I a m reminded of what Leo Buscaglia said,too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”  This quote exemplifies the spirit and dedication of our volunteers. They are a powerful reminder to us of what can be done when we come together, sharing our gifts and talents, and working harmoniously to support each other. To each of them I say THANK YOU, thank you for embodying the spirit of Bread and Life and for all you do for others.

Last week a senior staff member shared a recent experience with me. She said as she walked into the building a woman who had recently arrived from California was waiting in line to register for our food pantry. The woman stopped her and thanked her for all that Bread and Life had done for her and her daughter. She said that she had been a nursing supervisor in her country and fled to come to the US for a better life, landing in California first, and then traveling to NY on a bus all in an effort to provide a safer life for her daughter. When she arrived in NY, she landed in one of the local shelters and was immediately directed to Bread and Life, and in her words “they were nothing short of amazing.” She complimented the staff on how welcoming and warm they were, how energetic and motivated they were and how supportive they were, doing their very best to help them in any way possible, ensuring that their transition here would be as easy as possible. She went on to say that everyone she met in the shelter had nothing but positive things to say about Bread and Life. “They provide food, clothing and some guidance to additional services, even baby items for some of us!” She said she was grateful for a place like this and would remember us always. Isn’t this the quintessential compliment? This is just one of the stories I get to hear every day and I know that we are doing all we can to make life for everyone a bit better. Our long-time guests appreciate the kindness of the staff, our newer guests arrive with so many unanswered questions and leave a bit less anxious and a bit more hopeful and our staff take satisfaction in knowing they’ve made a difference.

This month we are preparing for our annual Johnny’s Angels Awards Dinner with all proceeds going to our emergency food programs. We are so delighted to bestow the Johnny’s Angels award on Shannon Riley and Nicia Fullwood cofounders of the BELA Academy here in Bedford Stuyvesant, a charter school for girls with a mission to empower young women to be the leaders of tomorrow. The impact they have on the lives of young women will prepare them to be future leaders. Dr. Andre McKenzie, PhD. the Associate Provost at St. John’s University is our Dr. Pamela Shea Byrnes honoree. Andre or “Doc” as he is affectionately known, has touched the lives of thousands of students encouraging and supporting their dreams and promoting inclusion in all facets of the University and in the world. Andre is also a board member of the BELA Academy and joins with Shannon, Nicia and the team at BELA in furthering their mission. He is a powerful reminder of what one person can do to make the world better. Finally, our Sr. Bernadette Award honoree is someone who spent his life in the service of others. Joe Martino, a founding board member, and long-time volunteer passed away last June leaving a legacy of compassionate care and love for all people. Joe lived the Vincentian spirit and promoted it in all aspects of his life. He truly exemplifies the spirit of Vincent DePaul and is greatly missed. Feeding the hungry and providing basic necessities for those in need were close to Joe’s heart and we could think of no better way to honor his memory than to name our new MSK in his memory. We invite you to join us at Giando’s on the Water on May 16, 2023. For more information on tickets please visit our website at breadandlife.org.

Finally, I am reminded of all the amazing things we have done together. We have distributed record numbers of meals, expanded our reach into all of Brooklyn and parts of Queens, provided needed case management support to thousand of guests, welcomed volunteers from all over the world and above all raised the spirits of so many in our community, and for that, I am truly grateful! Thank you for being a part of the Bread and Life family!

With gratitude,

Sr. Caroline Tweedy, RSM

Executive Director

Come celebrate


and this year's amazing honorees!

The Johnny’s Angels Awards recognize the extraordinary efforts of our honorees that reflect the Vincentian spirit on which St. John’s Bread & Life was founded. This annual event raises funds and awareness for St. John’s Bread and Life’s emergency food programs and essential human services.

Tables, Tickets & Sponsorhip
Digital Program
General Donation

A Blessed Lent!

View a video Thank You message from Sr. Caroline Tweedy

All of us at Bread and life are grateful for your support of our annual Lenten Appeal. Because of you, we not only hit our goal of 40,000 meals and $40,000, but we surpassed it by distributing 50,000 meals to our hungry neighbors.

You are truly change makers! As Robert Ingersoll said, “We rise by lifting one another up.” Thank you for helping to lift our neighbors up this Lenten season.

Volunteer Appreciation Month

The staff and Board of Directors of St. John’s Bread and Life would like to take a moment to express our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to our amazing volunteers who work tirelessly to address food insecurity in New York. Their selfless efforts have made a significant impact on the lives of many individuals and families who struggle to put food on their tables. Their dedication, compassion, and generosity have inspired many others to get involved and support Bread and Life’s mission. Their work has not gone unnoticed, and we are grateful for everything they do to make a difference in our community. Thank you for your service and for being a beacon of hope for those in need!

We are currently taking applications for new volunteers! Help us make a difference in the lives of our neighbors by preparing meals in our kitchen or packing pantry bags! Individual and Group sign-up is available! 

Donate Now!
or text HUNGER to 44321

For volunteering, contact:

Renelle Merstil at rmerstil@breadandlife.org

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