Next Monday, Nancy Kelley won’t work.
She’ll be at her Whitefish Bay home, as she is on the third Monday of every month. Visitors will arrive with sloppy joes, salads, cookies and more food, which are then delivered to the St. Benedict the Moor meal program.
Nancy and her husband, Mike, are members of St. Monica Parish in Whitefish Bay. They have been heavily involved in the church’s ministry at St. Ben’s, as it is commonly known, for 17 years. Mike even serves on the Meal Ministry Council at St. Ben’s, providing input to the Capuchin brothers who run the ministry.
It’s a gigantic undertaking. St. Ben’s, at 1015 N. 9th St. in Milwaukee, serves a community meal six nights a week. According to the program’s website, more than 85 religious and community organizations serve meals.
Nancy Kelley’s records show that on the 11 third Mondays in 2012, St. Monica Parish has served 3,466 meals at St. Ben’s. One month, more than 400 people came through the line. Both homeless people and the working poor come to table.
“You see a lot of the same people, month in and month out,” Mike said.
The Kelleys organize but they have help, not just in preparing food but in delivering and serving. Students who need community service hours often participate. The Kelleys’ three boys — all 21 and older now — helped serve meals since they were as young as 4 years old.
“We like in kind of a fantasyland, and we don’t see a lot of need (around us),” Nancy said. “In this way, I think they gained a broader perspective of the community at large.”
No matter your faith, you can support the meal ministry at St. Ben’s through St. Monica’s. Email the Kelleys for more information.
St. Monica’s has many other “hunger and shelter ministries” that provide people the opportunity to support the less fortunate during the holidays.
And if you would like to serve others through another Whitefish Bay church family, visit Patch's directory listing of churches in the area and find one that fits you.