Promised Land Awards

I must say from all aspects this has been a most satisfying first year.

A few weeks ago, we had a Saturday night potluck celebration with our gardeners.  Many attended Mass beforehand and heard Fr. Ryan preach about the Promised Land.  In part he said 

 ”We don’t know the end of our labors, we don’t care about the end of our labors because, in the spirit of the Gospel, we simply labored in the service of another. I can’t think of anything better than that. I am so proud to be your priest because of that. Through the power of God who fills and inspires us, we have done something beautiful together.”

In that spirit, I thought I’d share a few different perspectives on this:

From the gardeners:  There’s no doubt this was a lot of work…and a long-drawn-out service project from May until October.   But       nobody’s  complaining.  Every gardener I’ve spoken to talks about how they loved what they accomplished.  One noted ”Believe me when I tell you that we got more out of this experience than the    people who received that produce, and for that, we are thankful.”

Some of the gardeners chose to work in team with multiple families sharing the workload.  This certainly made it easier to work around vacations and busy schedules. 

From the agencies:  We shared well over 200      donations to 12 different social service agencies in town.  Three of those     agencies—Daybreak, the Veterans’ Assistance     Commission of Will County and Northern Illinois Food Bank—each received more than 30 donations.  

The feedback we got from the agencies was very positive.  All the food was put in the hands of those who  needed it.   Some of the agencies were very deliberate in distributing the food—for example saving the big zucchini to the big families.  All of the agencies were tremendously appreciative.

From our community:  I get asked “how are those gardens doing?” all the time.  When I tell them we’ve donated well over 1500 pounds of produce they are surprised (so are we!) and delighted (so are we!)  I’ve gotten more positive comments on this projects from parishioners and others than anything else I’ve been involved with at St. Raymond.

Sure, some have pointed out it’s a little messy—and the gardeners agree.  Our rainy spring, incredible soil and beginner’s luck combined to get us very big plants much earlier than we expected.  When we went to stake and cage everything, the plants were beyond corralling.  We’ll catch them earlier next year.

As the harvest wraps up, the gardeners are closing the beds for the season.  This simple act certainly prompts us to think about next year.  We have a relatively short list of things we want to do differently.  We also have a creative list of how to do more next year. 

To add to the fun at the closing celebration,  we presented the first annual Veggie Awards to these top producers:

Beans: The Be My Witness group  and Chiapello/Barker group.

Peppers:  Emmanuel Leonardo  and The Ponzevic Family

Zucchini: Steve Cantu, The Leon Family  and  The Schuler Family

Tomatoes: Joy Alwan and Mary Stacel, The Vitas/Flood/Bruno group The Savant Family

We also awarded the Good Neighbor Award to Steve Cantu for his willingness to  help others.

And, for the most donations made, we presented The   Hungry Heart Award to the Koontz Family who made 22 deliveries in a 9-week period!

Thanks to all for their hard work!

Eileen Hooks Gutierrez
Director of Development






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