PB UMC member Jeanette remembers the start of the Wednesday Night Program, and Intuit’s entry into volunteering. Jeanette writes…
Harvest for the Hungry – the original name of the Wednesday night ministry – came into being back in the early 1990’s. It was then that a new member of PB UMC was attending the Adult Bible Study in the Lanai. Her name was Mary Mahy (eventually shortened to Mary May).
Mary, a college graduate, had experienced bouts of mental illness which lead her to be living in Kate Sessions Park in PB. A frightening predicament in which to be but, Mary says she was always protected by her new family, the homeless. One night Mary prayed, ‘Dear God if you get me off the streets, I will help the homeless.’ Days afterward she was living indoors. She was true to her word.
One morning in Bible Study, Mary shared her story to the class about wanting to provide a meal for the homeless. In her time living on the streets, she had eaten at the Sunday night Presbyterian homeless meal and wanted to model our program after it. She asked if anyone would be willing to help her. Four people in the class that day said Yes – to what we didn’t know! They were Alan, Hazel, Bill (Jean’s husband), and me. Mary was thrilled. Many, many others over the years have added their own particular gifts of service to the program we now see today! You know who you are. 😉
Mary went to see about securing Hughes Hall and the kitchen for Wednesday nights for a meal to be served. Next she approached Pizza Hut for food donations. Pizza Hut agreed to let her come and get the pizzas of customers who hadn’t picked up their orders which Pizza Hut put in their freezers. So the ‘Harvest’ began; reheated pizzas of every kind – even anchovy. I was, so it seemed, the only person who liked anchovy pizza but, there was one guest at the time who shared my taste – our own Art!
I worked in Marketing at Intuit and also lead the community outreach for the San Diego offices. Intuit’s grass root community efforts were just being formalized company wide. In 1996 Grants became an option and I submitted a request for Harvest for the Hungry. Intuit approved a grant for $1,000! Now with some breathing room, Mary set her sights on finding much needed services for our guests. After one speaking engagement, UCSD Medical School approached Mary about possibly setting up a free medical clinic after the UC Berkeley model. Mary got approval and the first Wednesday Night Clinic began – which lead to the additional much needed clinics we have today.
Over the years various groups, individuals and businesses sponsor and/or donate to the weekly meal, each bringing their particular gifts every week for our guests. Early on, Intuit pledged to sponsor the meal for the 4th Wednesday of the month – typically a time when money, if there is any, runs short. Intuit originally provided lasagna but, changed it up to provide variety throughout the
As the San Diego community outreach leader for 1200+ people here at Intuit, the Wednesday night meal provided me the opportunity to get other Intuit employees involved in volunteering. Most told me they had always wanted to volunteer but, just didn’t know how. The meal was a perfect starting place, especially for those volunteers who had never spoken to a ‘homeless person’. I sent a monthly email for volunteers and eventually had to limit the number so we wouldn’t have too many people in the
kitchen. Some volunteers brought their children to help serve – and show the kids how simple and fun it is to volunteer. One department at Intuit very much enjoyed serving a BBQ, so they signed up for a picnic grilling at both the beginning and end of summer – and donated a gas grill to the program. Volunteering is contagious!
Intuit’s most recent grant to the Wednesday Night Program was $5,000, which arrived at the end of 2014! Thank you, Jeanette, for telling the story of the beginning of the Wednesday Night Program, and to Intuit, for your generous contributions of volunteers and grants over the years. The 4th Wednesday wouldn’t be the same without you!