Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches

We’re called to persist in our pursuit to live out the Catholic faith — even when the Church is experiencing a difficult time. Here’s how one Pueblo woman has given her yes and lives out her love for God and the Church in her daily life.

Kathy (Hayden) Cline began her journey as a Catholic at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Pueblo, where she was baptized as an infant and attended St. Patrick’s Parish School. God started to stir her heart for service when she was in elementary school. It was during that time that many were immigrating to Pueblo from Cuba. Back then, she remembers, the children stayed at the orphanage. Her family (parents and two brothers) would bring things to the orphanage for the kids. Even though her parents worked, “We just did things. That’s how we grew up. We took care of one another and others. Our parents taught us this. My dad, who served as county commissioner, said we were to give back to our community,” Cline explains. As she shared about the importance of helping others, she emphasized how it was rooted in her love for God and the Church. She knew from a young age that the faith was to be lived out no matter what. This conviction and calling followed her into adulthood.

Since her days of helping the children at the orphanage, Kathy has found new ways to live her faith and help others in the community. She has become a dedicated advocate for the local homeless.

In June 2018, Kathy, Dawn Herring and others began what has come to be known as the “Peanut Butter Angels.” Kathy explains, “This was the first time in over 36 years there had not been an evening meal available to the needy in the Pueblo community.”

With donations from volunteer members, local churches, schools and private donors, the Peanut Butter Angels prepare peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, as well as snacks for those in need throughout the community. The sandwiches are prepared, but the snacks are purchased, which is required by the Pueblo Department of Public Health. The Cathedral of the Sacred Heart is where they gather to make sandwiches, (second Sunday of the month from 9:30 to 11 a.m.). Along with sandwich supplies, many other churches and individuals donate hygiene items and clothing, including Irving Elementary, South High School, Holy Family Catholic Church, Christ the King Catholic Church and St. Joseph Catholic Church.

Kathy explained that the sandwiches are taken to a centralized location and the lunches are assembled. Sandwiches are also frozen for future distribution. The volunteers who are assigned to distribute each evening pick up the sack lunches and begin the delivery. All deliveries are done by the volunteer in their own vehicle. 

The sack lunches were distributed Monday through Saturday between the hours of 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. from June 2018 through December 2018.

From January to April this year, the lunches were distributed two nights a week, with each recipient receiving three lunches at a time.

While there has been great support for these efforts, there has also been opposition and struggle.

The initial distribution was held daily at Mineral Palace Park in Pueblo. The city of Pueblo required a permit, which was issued, then rescinded two hours later by the Parks Department and City Manager’s Office. New locations were identified throughout Pueblo, but these locations have changed multiple times due to the concerns raised by law enforcement.

The number of lunches distributed from June 2018 to June 2019 was 45,000.

The sandwiches will be available until the renovation of the new Pueblo Rescue Mission (728 W. 4th St., Pueblo) is completed. The Peanut Butter Angels will transition into being the volunteers for helping with the 5 p.m. meal at the Rescue Mission.

The Rescue Mission will be open seven days a week/365 days a year. It will be open to anyone and everyone. The mission will ensure that every person is working towards sustainable living. With the assistance of their case manager, those who come to the mission for assistance will have to meet goals set for them.

The new rescue mission will have showers, washers and dryers and 100 beds. It will be a permanent shelter for 75 men and 25 women.

This will be a wonderful opportunity for the homeless and needy in Pueblo. Currently in Pueblo there is no shelter and no showers. The shelter at Posada of Pueblo is for families and the YWCA is open to those who are victims of domestic violence.

There will be programs offered at the new rescue mission. These will include “His Eyes See,” which is a program where you can donate old glasses to be used by those who do not have access to eye care, and “Cooking Matters,” where those who are assisted by the mission will have the opportunity to learn the basics of nutrition and cooking. Kathy explains, “We hope the mission will be the one step-catch all stop.”

Kathy wants us to remember that the mission, scheduled to open this December, is a rescue mission. “This is not like the past. It’s critical the mission is based on housing first and self-sufficiency.” Kathy and the mission volunteers will work hard to help those they serve to get into housing and health programs.

The mission leadership will rely on the churches for mentors to help the individuals they serve to be successful. Kathy explained they have a “team approach for everything. We don’t have a lot of money. We are going to depend on volunteers.”

When asked what is most important for our readers to know, Kathy says,

“It is so important our community understands these individuals aren’t a problem. The majority of the time their behavior is mental illness. They aren’t on medications because they don’t have stability in their lives. They need support to find housing.”

The mission will be a bridge for new housing assistance, “Permanent Supportive Housing,” which will be available in 2020.

Kathy says “The people we serve need to know they aren’t alone. They need a bridge. A support. We all need support. They need more.”

In Psalm 23, the Good Shepherd calls his sheep to green pastures. He provides a safe place to eat, rest and be renewed. The shepherd gives the sheep what they need to keep going.

For herself and all of the volunteers, Kathy explains, “All of this is based on faith. We all want to help. We know there’s a need.” Through Peanut Butter Angels and the preparation of the new rescue mission, “the community is coming together. The individuals we serve are a part of our community. We need to help them out.”

In Kathy’s work thus far, the largest group she and her volunteers have been able to help are the veterans.

To put our faith into action, to be Christ to others and provide a place to eat, rest and be renewed, like Christ shows us how to do in Psalm 23, we are invited and encouraged to get involved and respond to a need motivated by faith.

What can you do to support Peanut Butter Angels and the Rescue Mission of Pueblo?

Don’t enable those who ask for assistance. Money given directly to individuals will likely pay for a motel room, alcohol or drugs. These individuals are more likely to grow into healthy independence if they are not enabled. Consider giving directly to this faith-based community effort by

  • Donating financially (Mail: P.O. Box 9167, Pueblo, CO, 81008)
  • Donating hygiene items
  • Donating clothing items (including new socks and underwear) (starting December 2019 when the new Rescue Mission of Pueblo opens)
  • Learn more about the Rescue Mission of Pueblo by calling Kathy Cline at (719) 251-2136 or visiting www.pueblorescuemission.org

Other Faith-Based Organizations Around the Diocese of Pueblo

There are many other faith-based organizations in the Diocese of Pueblo living out the Catholic faith and serving the poor and vulnerable. Take time to learn about these efforts, pray about how to get involved, and share with others!

  • Grand Valley Outreach, Grand Junction

Sister Karen Bland, OSB, Executive Director

(970) 241-3658   

http://www.catholicoutreach.org

  • El Centro de los Pobres, Avondale

Sister Nancy Crafton, SC, Director

(719) 947-3109

212 E. U.S. Hwy 50
            P.O. Box 304
            Avondale, CO, 81022

  • La Puenta Home, Inc., Alamosa

Lance Cheslock, Executive Director
(719) 587-3499
http://lapuentehome.org