Staff with story of redemption prepares for Thanksgiving at City Mission

November 22, 2017 05:27 PM

SCHENECTADY -- The group of men running the kitchen staff at the City Mission of Schenectady is busy preparing to feed hundreds on Thanksgiving.  Thursday, they will have a lot to be thankful for, they all used to be on the other side of the table.

"I just happen to get paid for this, I love it so much that I'd probably do it, even if I didn't," said Mike, food services associate.

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They aren't the words you expect to hear from a man wrestling with a tub of mayonnaise.  Or from a man, with a past like Mike's.

"You know, I was involved is some sketchy stuff before. I wasn't a believer. I was the opposite of a believer. I knew who believers were, and I couldn't stand them," said Mike.

Now Mike is a cook. But he came here as a client. Homeless and addicted.

"I didn't have a place to say, I heard about the City Mission," said Jordan, community outreach coordinator.

Now Jordan recruits volunteers.

This kitchen is full of comeback stories. People who went through mission programs, and then started helping others get back on their feet.

"Once I got here, I was able to turn my life around," said Lloyd, director of food services.

Twenty years later, Lloyd runs the whole food program. Four meals a day, to about 650 people a day. The City Mission has almost 100 paid staff, including counselors, but it's often these guys, who have struggled too, that get through to the addicts and criminals

"This place, even with addiction, this place makes you want to do better," said Kory.

Kory took a pay cut to start here. He says people change because of a culture of faith, love, and respect.  Now he's part of a new idea, ending the buffet style, and using servers.  

It gives these guys another chance to reach out, because who knows when the next employee will walk through the door.

"I walked up the driveway, homeless and broken, but now I consider it a duty and privilege to be able to work here and show people better life," said Mike.

The shelter is 100 percent funded by donations. And the holiday season isn't the only time they need them.


Asa Stackel

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