Well, that first dinner at her mom’s house turned into many other dinners, romantic dates, double dates with friends and family and beautiful times alone together as their love for one another grew and blossomed.
My dad and mom both worked secular jobs in addition to being in ministry to make ends meet and one such job Dad worked was at the New England States pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City. He coordinated events and when he was off work he would take mom on strolls around the fair. He would show her things she’d never seen before, take her to meet people she’d never met before and though she was reluctant, he tried to get her to try new foods at some of his favorite places in New York City
She said that he was always a perfect gentleman and very charming. He was never pushy and quickly wound his way around her heart and she around his. They prayed together, they dreamed together. They laughed together. Yes, they were truly in love.
One cold February day in 1965 Dad asked mom if she would marry him. She believed that this young man of God was truly her life’s mate, her ministry partner, the man of her dreams and they began to plan for a September 11, 1965 wedding which would be held at her home church, the Huntington Assembly of God Pentectostal Church. (that’s what it was called then)
One of my favorite things to do as a little girl was to look at my mom’s wedding album. Page by page I would go through the photos and tell her how beautiful she was and how funny it was to see the styles that were in back then. She would point out all the people that I might know and would tell me who those I didn’t know were. She never failed to say how special it was to have had them in her wedding or at her wedding. She would say, “Now that was one of the best days of my life. The second was when you were born.” And she would hug me.
She pointed out that the youth of the church (then called C.A.’s “Christ Ambassadors) decorated their car with paper carnations and made it so special. (thank God it didn’t’ rain!) She told me about the catering from Zorn’s and how delicious the food was. Their wedding reception was held in the fellowship hall of the church that had been built fairly recently at that time. She, dad, some family and friends helped to decorate for the occasion and it was so special to them, the best that they could make it!
Her brother, Nelson Meringola gave her away because her father had passed away suddenly a couple of years before while she was away at Bible College. She attended an Assemblies of God Bible school called (EBI in Green Lane, Pennsylvania) She always referred to those four years as “the best four years of her life”. It was a time when she was trained to preach, to speak, learned proper etiquette for a ministers’ wife, among many other things I’m sure but it was a time of her learning to find God’s direction for her life. She believed that He had a special path for her to follow and did her best to follow that path each day to the best of her ability. She did that for all of her life. I saw it firsthand. She truly had a living, practical faith and an awesome, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
They went on a local honeymoon that was cut short by the death of her grandfather, Nelson Meringola Sr. They headed home, attended the funeral then began to work, mom at Lafayette Electronics in “order fulfillment”. She liked her job and did it well. Dad, in addition to his great ability to preach and administrate, was a fantastic short order chef and worked at the Pancake House on Route 110 at that time. Mom used to go and sit and watch him work sometimes. She said, “I would nurse my cup of coffee along and watch him work. I never got tired of seeing my husband. Without saying a word, we knew what we were saying just by looking at each other. Lovers can talk with their eyes.” Whew! They really were in love!
They began to put our resumes. Dad was looking for an administrative position at a mission type organization. Prior to his time in New York he had worked for several years overseeing programs at Good Will Home and Rescue Mission, he had done a great amount of fundraising for the Catholic Church’s programs building several rehabilitation type centers out on the West Coast (that’s a story I will share at another time) and he loved people, all people. He loved to sit and talk with them, he loved to share the gospel with them and he loved to help to meet their needs and see their lives transformed. He had hoped to find a job where mom could work in the offices too or at least nearby. So many resumes went out and few phone calls came in. It was a time of waiting and praying.
One evening he received a call to go to interview for the position of Executive Director at a well-established mission, Faith City Mission in Amarillo, Texas. He was so excited. The job would come with a good salary, a nice house, a dependable car, great benefits, a comfortable office and it was doing just what he wanted to do, ministering to people and helping to grow the mission. If this worked out it would just be perfect! Off to Texas he went!
The interview time came and he felt that it had gone well. He returned home as there was a waiting period while other candidates from around the country were interviewed. My dad and mom were so thrilled when the phone call came a couple of weeks later offering him the job! They celebrated and thanked God for opening this door.
They felt that their prayers had been answered and told their family and friends that they would be moving to Texas in late January. Mom was offered a job in the offices there. This was just going to be so perfect! They would work their jobs on Long Island until then, they would save some money and then they would be ready to begin their new life and work in Texas at Faith City Mission!
Starting at the beginning is a very good place to begin most stories. I'm going to tell it as best as I can remember it. I heard it from my parents probably hundreds of times and never tired of hearing it. I'll do my best to remember the times, dates, names but all in all I hope the you will enjoy this unique love story!
The year was 1964. The season, late fall which is always a colorful, beautiful season of change in New York.
My mom, Rose Marie Gaines was from Huntington Station, N.Y.
My dad Jim Gaines (J.A. Gaines or Jimmie Gaines) was from Talladega, Alabama.
Though they had both been in a couple of serious dating relationships they had not yet found their life love and because they were getting a little older at 29 and 34 they were hoping, dreaming and praying for that special person that they believe God had prepared for them to make their appearance, cross their path and share their life for life. Mom used to say she prayed over the empty pillow on the bed next to her every night and asked God to fill it with a special man that would share her heart for service to Him and others.
She would sometimes chuckle when she shared the story and she would say, “I felt like when he finally arrived I’d give him a good punch in the nose for taking so long. Heh, heh. No, it was all in God’s time and I just had to be a little bit patient.”
Dad was preaching in N.Y.C. where he had felt a call to come in 1964 and mom went in with her sister and brother-in-law to hear him speak. She didn’t meet him that night but spoke with a twinkle in her eye about seeing and hearing that wonderful southern evangelist that night.
A few weeks passed and it was February 1965. There was a party in Queens hosted by a friend of my mom. Unbeknownst to mom, dad was renting an apartment from this friend because it was a close to the subway to Manhattan where he would go to preach several times a week.
Well, Mom was running a little bit late and when she arrived the hostess was busy taking a lasagna out of the oven. The doorbell rang. “Jim, would you please get the door for me?” the friend asked. “Yes.” he said and quickly made his way to open the front door. When he would tell the story at this point his eyes would sparkle as he would say, “When I answered that door before me stood an angel. I think that at that moment, I knew something and she did too.” Mom would say the same thing. It was love at first sight. So sweet!!
The story goes on about their conversation through the evening. Mom made a point to find out that this debonair, complete southern gentleman was in fact single, he was in fact a minister and he would in fact like to have dinner with her. She was a bit shy and instead of going out to dinner with him she wanted him to come to dinner, at her mother’s house where she lived.
She would make him a wonderful meal and asked what his favorite dessert was so she could prepare it. “Lemon meringue pie.” he said. When the night came she had prepared (with Grandma Meringola’s help I’m sure) an Italian feast for that debonair, thin, complete southern gentleman to enjoy. He swears it was the best Italian food he'd ever eaten and the first and last lemon meringue pie she ever made for him. When he would say that she would say, “Oh, Jim.” With her little chuckle.
If you knew my mom you know exactly what I mean by that. She had a soft little “heh-heh-heh” that came from her throat with a winsome smile that gleamed when she was jesting or a little twinkle when she was even a bit annoyed with something. It was signature to mom and something that I just loved about her. Boy, do I miss that sweet chuckle!
Well, here we are. Well actually, you're there and I'm here but we're kind of here together. I've often thought of adding a blog to our website. It would provide a place of additional connection, information and storytelling. I haven't ever blogged about the Mission before and kind of like the idea of sharing from my perspective what it's like to "continue the legacy", how it came to be and where it's going.
The story of HHRM is a journey of love and faith. Our Mission was born in the hearts of two amazing people and I could never enough begin to express the love and admiration that I had and continue to have for my parents, Jim & Rose Marie Gaines. Their commitment, hard work, dedication to God, to their community and their awesome love for all people is what the Mission was built on.
People, some just like you came alongside to help through the years in so many different ways. It is here that I will do my best to share with you some of the many stories as I remember and experience them.
I hope that you will enjoy the journey with me.
Kim (Gaines) Gambino serves as the President/Director of Helping Hand Rescue Mission in Huntington Station.
225 Broadway Huntington Station, NY 11746
Winter Donation Hours Wed & Fri 10am-4pm
Saturdays 10-12:30pm (see calendar for closings)
PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE DONATIONS WHEN CLOSED.
WE DO NOT ACCEPT BOOKS OR OLD ELECTRONICS
WE DO NOT ACCEPT "TOY ROOM CLEANOUTS"
WE ARE COLLECTING NEW TOYS FOR CHRISTMAS
Food Pantry is open Tues-Fri 10am-2pm
Huntington Township Residents unless referred by another church or agency
Photo ID is required to register for the pantry.
Free Community Lunch -Next Date Every Thursday 12pm
Volunteers by appointment only please!
Baby Blessings at HHRM is on December 19th this month from 10:30am-3pm at HELPING HAND RESCUE MISSION.
Diapers, wipes and other available baby items are given to Huntington township families in need.
Proof of Residency is required and Birth Certificates or Insurance cards may be requested..
Donations of diapers, wipes, formula and baby items are needed monthly and are always appreciated.
Saturday-Happy Day Express Children's Outreach
10:30 am-12:30pm Free for Children Ages 5-12
Call for Specific Holiday Schedule
Call 631-351-6996 for Information/Free Registration
Join us on Sunday mornings at 11am for worship at the Half Hollow Community Church
11 Seaman Neck Road
Dix Hills, NY 11746