The Franciscan Brothers, with students from both St. Anthony's High School and St. Francis College, came together to work at C.H.i.P.S. soup kitchen and shelter in Park Slope, Brooklyn on October 29th.
CHiPS is a community based, not for profit, soup kitchen and residence in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The inspiration to found CHiPS came at a time when there were many home bound elderly and persons with disabilities living alone in The Slope. It was initially founded as a project of the Catholic Parish of St. Francis Xavier in 1972. At that time the Franciscan Brothers had a friary in the parish and many of the Brothers who lived there taught in the parish school and many of us also volunteered there. Bro. Damian Novello and Bro. Tom Barton have been the longest serving volunteers.
(Over these 44 years there has almost always been at least one Franciscan Brother involved, quite often as a significant person such as the coordinator of the night shelter, a Board of Trustees member, or as either the president or vice president.)
CHiPS is funded basically through the generosity of the people of Brooklyn. A major source of the food served comes from the Park Slope Food Cooperative, Union Street.
We rely mainly on volunteers, of which there are about 200, with a full time paid staff of four. (Many volunteer groups come from out of state during the holiday time or summer.)
There are two components of CHiPS, the primary one is to serve approximately 100-150 persons daily, a hot well balanced meal, Monday through Saturday.
There is additionally a breakfast meal, basically of donated baked goods, sometimes hard boiled eggs, and always juice and hot coffee. (At the end of the month there will be more of the poor who take advantage of the opportunity.)
A secondary component is the residence which houses homeless Moms with new born babies. The Frances Residence has the capacity to house nine mothers and infants each in a supervised apartment. We do not receive much assistance from either the city or state, although we try every avenue suggested for funding. At the present time we are at half capacity simply because we cannot afford to have nine families in residence. In the past the Christian (Catholic and Protestant) churches of Park Slope, and several synagogues have been a great source of funding.
The Franciscan Sisters of the Poor have been marvelous supporters of CHiPS, and the Franciscan Brothers continue their support, financially as well as in time and talent.
CHiPS stands for Community Help In Park Slope, one of the student volunteers suggested that it meant "everyone chips in". In case you wonder at the lower case i in CHiPS it is to remind us all that i am important to the life and vitality of this valuable association.
If you would like to learn more about C.H.i.P.S. or volunteer some time please go to: http://www.chipsonline.org/