Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Way Cool Christmas in Review

Have a Wonderful Christmas!

When I reflect on the Christmas programs held at the Mission this week I am thankful that so many of our residents were able to have a bright spot during a low time in their lives. Yes, even though many of our residents are homeless and staying in a Mission, they were able to receive many blessings this year as our community came together to reach out to those in need. The Christmas programs at Wayside center around several events that I would like to briefly review.

We began the season with "Breakfast with Santa", an annual event that occurred on December 9th. Santa and his elves put together an early morning breakfast for the women and children staying at Wayside. The Mission's "Down by the Wayside Gospel Choir" sang Christmas songs. When the children and their parents completed the meal, Santa mysteriously came down the stairs from the second floor of the Carl Nussbaum, Jr., Child Development Center and seated himself in a large oak rocking chair located in front of the center's Christmas tree. The children lined up for a chance to sit on Santa's lap and tell him about their Christmas wishes. I only saw one little girl who was frightened by the jolly old man. Santa was played by Larry Cox, a long time supporter of the Mission and aid to Senator Mitch McConnell. He was assisted by Jeff Apperson, the Clerk of Court, Western District of Kentucky Federal Court, and by other helpers including my daughter, Star, and Diane Warfield of JCPS.

Breakfast with Santa is the kick off for the Mission's "Miracle on Market Street Christmas Store", one of Louisville's best Christmas gift programs helping thousands of children with toys and presents. Starting on December 17th and ending on December 24th, the store is housed in the south wing of the child development center. Before opening the children's rooms were set up like department store display rooms, featuring gifts for infants, preschoolers, and school-aged kids. A room was also devoted to presents for parents. Families living below the poverty level began signing up for the program during November and were given appointment times to come and shop at the free store the week before Christmas. Each child was allocated a large and small gift, stocking stuffers, and a food basket that included a canned ham was given to each family. I always like to say this is the only store in Louisville without a cash register: instead we have wonderful volunteers ready and willing to wrap the gifts chosen by the parents.

Christmas Eve festivities actually begin weeks before as individuals, families, churches and business groups are matched with families staying at the Mission or who have recently moved out to permanent housing. These sponsoring "Good Samaritans" actually fill the wish lists of some of the area's neediest children. The amazing fact is that most of them go way beyond the expectation, providing tremendous joy and good will during a great time of difficulty. This year 32 families were sponsored. These families were given their gifts on Christmas Eve at the Mission's annual Christmas Eve Party. The party began as a volunteer read the Christmas story out of the New Testament and the Mission Choir led with the singing of Christmas carols. Santa, Dr. David Moore, a local Psychotherapist and Mission supporter, arrived aboard a Louisville Fire Department fire truck with lights and sirens blaring. My son Timmy Moseley rode with Santa. When Santa disembarked the fire truck the Mission children surrounded him and led him into the kitchen where the party was taking place. Santa took his place on stage in a chair and Nina Moseley called the names. Soozie Eastman and her mother assisted Nina as the families came up and got their family picture taken by Dick Wilson, a stock broker with UBS Financial. A number of other volunteers prepared the party foods for the residents and assisted in disseminating a large room full of gifts. Children came out of the room with smiles toting gifts and some even with bicycles.

This year Christmas Eve at the Men's Campus was energized by John Straub, a member of SECC, who led a group of volunteers that provided Christmas carolers, brought 250 dozen cookies from across the city, purchased 600 pairs of men's socks and 600 pairs of men's underwear. John enlisted a men's campus Santa and twenty volunteers to help with the party. Over three hundred men attended the party at the men's shelter and were each blessed with a gift bag filled with personal hygiene items, socks, hats, gloves and Christmas candies.

Christmas Day is a day of feasting as volunteers serve a first class breakfast, lunch and dinner to residents of the Mission. Breakfast included a special treat of sausage patties and fresh fruit, thanks to a generous donor. The major difference in our Christmas lunch and supper meal is that we serve a pot luck; in fact, we think it is the biggest pot luck in town. Hundreds of families and individuals shared recipes and food that allowed us to cook the favorite dishes and prepare them on Christmas Day. Volunteer A.C. Gruber helped check in the kitchen volunteers and her brother Mike Gruber and his two sons handed out gifts to the permanent supportive housing residents on the fourth floor of the Jefferson Street Men's Campus. Over 400 volunteers in all helped prepare and serve about 3,000 meals throughout the day. Each of our homeless men, women and children were served a wonderful plate of holiday food with a warm smile by the volunteers.

Several holiday activities around the shelters spread cheer in the weeks leading up to Christmas day, thanks to many volunteers in the community. Santa's Elves visited the preschoolers in our child development center and each child told Santa their Christmas wish. A few days later, Santa returned giving each child their wished for toy. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes from Fern Creek High School took our family shelter children shopping for their parents and held a crafts party for the children. The AT&T volunteers held a special party on December 20th for all the women in the shelter. On December 19th, Iroquois Presbyterian Church held a holiday party for the men in the shelter. On December 12th, local attorney Frank Mascagni, III, donned a Santa suit and provided a first-class, old-fashioned Christmas party for all the families in the shelter, complete with wonderful holiday treats, gifts for the children, and a special gift of a brand new $2 bill for each child.

Through the generosity of our donors and volunteers, every homeless man, woman and child at Wayside Christian Mission was shown the true Christmas spirit, that of love and a giving heart.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Thanksgiving Remarks from our Residents

At this point in my life, I couldn't have had a better holiday than the one here at Wayside. The strength, love, and hope I experienced here from the staff, residents, and volunteers was beyond words. I was truly happy.


Thanksgiving was a blessing here at Wayside. The volunteers were not only great at serving and cleaning, but they were actually there to cheer me up when I became sad from missing my loved ones. May they all continue to be blessed for blessing to us here at Wayside.


Thanksgiving Day was about praising the Lord for all my blessings. Being in the choir was the best way I could have spent my day. I feel truly blessed to have been a part of it all.


I was so happy to have my family come and share the day with me here at Wayside. The volunteers were so helpful and nice to my grandkids. They had alot of fun. The food was delicious and plentiful. Thank God for Wayside!


Thanksgiving Day was a blessing to me. I just love being a member of the choir. I enjoyed karaoke and being able to have fun clean and sober. I am very blessed to be at Wayside trying to live a better life. I'm grateful to have Ms.Virginia as a part of my life.