When I think back to this time last year, we were prepared for a usual year, 2020 but what was in store for our community was far from usual.
We had our calendar planned, outreaches scheduled, offices hours planned, volunteer positions created, seasonal boutique fundraisers that help to support our mission were being prepared for and seasonal donation initiatives were planned like Back To School, Easter Baskets, Summer Family Fun Days. We were keeping busy and happy to be of service.
Then COVID came! I can remember last January watching the news with my husband Andrew. We were seeing footage from China and I remarked that I couldn't imagine having to wear a mask every day like they were. Little did I know that just 2 months later that would be an everyday practice for us.
If you've followed our story you know that we have come a long way in a year. We have served three times the number of families as in a usual prior year. It's been a huge blessing to have the needed funds coming in monthly to make the purchases necessary to help our community. We had help with purchasing a new van that makes it possible for us to pick up large quantities of food and product and make deliveries. Signarama and some friends donated the "wrap" so it looks really nice. It's like a rolling billboard. We are so happy to have it.
We had some unexpected structural and maintenance issues with our buildings that were really serious and those have been taken care of. We are planning to work on our kitchen and dining room building next. It is over 35 years old and is just OLD. You can clean it and clean it and it still looks old. It needs some updates to make it more compliant and functional in different ways. We would like to try and move the kitchen to the back space of the building and open up more seating so that when the time comes to serve we will be able to do it well. That will take a commercial architect to plan, approval by the Suffolk County Health Department. We won't be adding to the building just rearranging the inside space. We are in the beginning stages of just talking about it. Please keep that in your prayers. It's a pretty big undertaking and we will keep you posted as we know more.
We are not planning to add more new programs to our mission this year but will work to ADD VALUE to our existing core programs. Our Food Pantry will continue to serve the community 4 days a week, Tuesday, Friday 11-1pm. and we are excited to add a "Fill A Bag-Feed A Family" component, engaging our community in filling bags with food for our distributions instead of just doing "food drives". We will be posting our list soon. It's kind of exciting. More details will follow:)
Baby Blessings will continue monthly at Huntington Assembly on the third Tuesday of each month. We are currently helping around 110 babies each month with diapers, wipes, clothing formula as needed and limited amounts of baby furnishings, car seats, strollers etc (not older than 3 years for safety reasons)
We will suspend those larger items for January and February because it is VERY cold outside and hard to distribute those items quickly. We will source out items as requested by families and will post those needs as they arise.
Drew's Birthday Angels! We have always given out Birthday Bags to our mission kids and they always light up when they receive a bag with a cake mix, icing, birthday cups, plates, table cloths, favors and goodies. We will be adding value to this program this year by partnering with Deeds for Drew #deeds4drew Johann Nugent and family. to provide Drew's Birthday Angels. Johanna has provided an online form that local families in need can fill out and request a birthday wish (toy, etc). That will be added to the birthday bag that the child receives from HHRM giving the child an EXTRA SPECIAL birthday.
Weekly Hot Drive Thru meals will begin again on 1/20/21 at Huntington Assembly via drive thru. Meals are purchased from local restaurants with funds raised and they are distributed via contact free drive thru as supplies last. We are hoping to start with 500-700 meals per week. We'd like to do more as God provides. To date over 22,000 meals have been provided in partnership with other organizations.
A WINTER CLOTHING DRIVE will begin on January 18, 2021. Functional family clothing will be accepted at HHRM during donation hours. Clothing must be washed and in clear plastic bags or on hangers (that's the easiest way to process and distribute) Donation hours for this will begin 1/18 10-2pm and Tuesday-Friday 10-11 or 1-4pm Saturday 10-1pm. BUT NOT UNTIL 1/18 PLEASE.
We are not scheduling any boutique fundraisers at this time and will progress towards Easter baskets again, something special for Mother's Day-gotta remember those mama's holding it all together! Father's Day-those daddy's too, of course a Summer Clothing Distribution will be planned, Back to School backpacks and then the holidays will roll around on our calendar again.
Thank you so much for your love, prayers and support. We are so happy to be able to be here for the families that need our support, food, supplies and love.
We pray every day for God's provision, protection, grace and so much love to be evident in all that we do. We are grateful for those who are helping us, volunteering, working alongside near and far. We could not do what we do with out this support.
I remember a mom looking straight in my eyes. "What would we do without the mission? You have helped us so much with everything. God bless you." Another mom brought us fresh tamales on New Year's Eve and an orchid. "Thank you for all that you do to help. These are tamales for your New Year." Precious expressions of love multiplied back to us are an incredible blessing.
Thank you again for understanding the heart and soul of HHRM.
"But they that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings as eagles. They will run and not be weary. They will walk and not faint." From the book of Isaiah.
Wow! September 1st! It's hard to believe that the end of summer is almost here.
Back in March someone asked me if I thought we'd be wearing masks through June and having the increased food pantry numbers etc. I said, "As much as I'd like to think that it will be over so soon, we are anticipating this extended need to be at least through the fall months. We are going to prepare to serve the community should that happen. We want to be here to support our families' needs." I'm so glad that that is what we planned for because we're still wearing masks and social distancing. Though the numbers are down considerably from the spring when were were serving 500+ families a week, we are still serving about 3x's the usual average number of weekly pantry clients at 225-250 families/week. So, we're still busy. Not "crazy busy" but "busy busy". lol.
Last week was WONDERFUL as we partnered with Family Service League, The Junior Welfare League, Tri-CYA, the Town of Huntington, Friends of the Huntington Station Latin Quarter and local churches including Island Christian Church, St Luke Lutheran Church & Dix Hills Evangelical Free Church to provide new backpacks and supplies to 1,`126 local children. There were so many wonderful volunteers and we are so grateful to have had this opportunity to serve together. We are completing our waiting list this week and will continue to give out school supplies as needs arise etc. It's always great to move forward to what is next knowing that a previous project has been completed well!
We are preparing for our annual FALL FAMILY CLOTHING DISTRIBUTION which will be September 30-October 3rd. We are making every preparation to have a safe, COVID guidelines compliant, encouraging, practical distribution that will provide FUNCTIONAL everyday clothes for families. We'd love to add new socks and underwear to that list so we'll be posting an AMAZON wishlist and have a drop off box at HHRM for those items. Families will be scheduled by 20 minute appointment (In person registration will begin 9/7/20 at HHRM) We will be posting volunteer needs for the set up and event. We'd love to have you join with us and help give out clothing to some beautiful families.
What are our current needs? The food need is ongoing. We'd like to continue giving out fruits and vegetables which we received in abundance from Dan Diviney through PROJECT HOPE throughout the summer. We are waiting to see if another grant will come through for those items or if we will be purchasing them weekly. Milk prices have increased making it difficult for us to purchase weekly. If anyone has a contact for milk we can use 200-300 1/2 gallons per week. We'd be happy to purchase at a reasonable price. We are still giving out fresh eggs which Project Hope has been providing as well as items received from Makinajian Farms and Target. Local neighbors have also been providing produce from their gardens and we appreciate that so much!
You can help to support our food pantry by bringing in non-perishables, hosting a food drive at your home or place of business, making a donation to sponsor a food pantry bag or two or ten:) Helping to volunteer as the needs arise. You can find a list of needed pantry items on our website under the "Food Pantry Needs" tab.
You can also help to support our mission by making a donation through our website or with no fee on our Facebook page Helping Hand Rescue Mission. You can pray for us or send us some encouraging words which mean so much!
We're planning for our annual Thanksgiving food basket and turkey distribution and our holiday Christmas celebration though due to COVID-19 these events may look a little different this year. We can still share these celebrations and share God's love and the message that He came to bring PEACE on Earth!
Isn't that a wonderful message?
We pray for God's peace that passes all understanding to be present over our community, city, nation and world. We pray for our leaders and ask God to give them wisdom as they lead. We pray provision and protection over HHRM, those who serve with us and those that we serve. We pray for divine direction as we plan and go about our daily work. We pray for love to be over all that we do and that His love will motivate our hearts towards greater service and a wonderful season of giving.
We will continue to MOVE FORWARD in the days ahead. Sometimes it may feel like baby steps but FORWARD Is FORWARD and we are MOVING.
Kim Gambino, President HHRM
I'm sitting here early this morning just reflecting on this past week. It's been like no other week I've experienced in my life. COVID-19 has come to New York and it's brought a lot of uncertainty and new ways of life with it. It's vicious and it's changed our lives and keeps us from many things that we love but it cannot steal our hope and joy.
Last week following our governor's request for social distancing etc. as an essential resource (food pantry) we made the decision to only have one or two people working in our building at a time. We spread out the volunteer hours, made a schedule and told people that we totally understand if they don't want to come right now. Our motto is SIMPLIFY & SERVE. We have cut down our activities to only food and supply related at this time. It's just not safe to take in used household donations and clothing knowing that those donations could harbor this terrible virus. It's just not worth it and we're being kept busy with distributing food and supplies four days a week 2 hours a day and partnering with Huntington Assembly (Pastor Danny Rivera), Friends of the Huntington Station Latin Quarter (Xavier & Laura Palacios) local food establishments and Friends of HHRM to bring "drive thru" hot meals 2 days a week (650 meals served last week. That's been awesome and is running smoothly. We've had to raise additional funds to help fund the meals, packaging etc. We've been asking local restaurants to make 200 meals for $500 on Wednesdays and Fridays. Pastor Danny & HSLQ have been getting an additional 200. It gives the restaurants some business and gives us some great food to share. This past week our partners were RED & Mama Lucia. The families REALLY enjoyed the meals.
We've been taking in the leftover lunches and breakfasts from our school district and distributing them, preparing extra lunches & family snack bags for distribution and that being said, we had to purchase a new commercial size fridge 54" to keep perishable foods at proper temperatures. It will be delivered around April 7th and we can't wait to get it. We've been securing cleaning supplies like bleach, soaps, detergent, paper towels, hand sanitizer, antibacterial whatever we can find, diapers, wipes, formula and double doses of encouragement and prayer.
We've also been enjoying some family time as we "social distance". We have our two college "kids" Heather and AJ ( and Heather's 14 year old Jack Russell Lulu-Einstein's new BFF) home with us from Virginia. AJ is in the 4th year of a 5 year engineering program and is now doing all his studies online. Heather is studying exercise science and she's been busy online as well. They no longer have their jobs or the opportunity to be with friends at this time. It can be a little discouraging but there's nothing like family and we are enjoying the time that we have together. Mattison is in North Dakota in the USAF and is doing well although they are having their share of COVID-19 there. Drew is living here on Long Island and doing what he can to get through this crisis. Gianna is with her mom up in Mass and is doing 5th grade online. She won't be coming for Spring Break and we're bummed about that but it's ok. Next time will be better:) Sometimes it's hard for young people to stay encouraged but we're trying to help them navigate these uncertain time.
Marianna Cava, my new administrative assistant has been working remotely and is updating our website and social media posts regularly, fielding calls and requests and doing an amazing job. It was like, "Welcome Marianna, start your awesome mission job and hey...it's a pandemic everything's changing. Can you do a million things at once. And she can." She's awesome and we're so happy to have her. Her love and heart for the people that we serve is amazing.
John Walsh our Food Pantry manager has been packing food bags solo twice a day and is keeping us up to date on our pantry needs. He's a real blessing and always smiles and encourages me that it's going to be ok. He can't believe the number of bags that we are giving out.
Jennifer Laino has been helping with correspondence, donor thank you letters and filling in wherever she's needed. She's always so helpful and a true friend and asset to HHRM. WE ARE BLESSED!
Ingrid Wright & Graciela Lopez have been assisting with pantry hours. Their love shines as they love people through the glass doors from a distance for now.
Irma Cuaresma has been identifying single moms and families that have no way to get out or around, small children etc. We are working with a local scout leader who is going to get those families the basic food items that they need.
Our community is coming together in so many ways. Over the last two weeks we have distributed
745 Lunches & family snack bags "to go"
140 Bags of Diapers & Wipes given to families
110 Bags of cleaning supplies (bleach, detergent, sanitizer paper prod)
187 Pantry food bags distributed
650 Meals Served "Drive Thru" Style (w Hunt. Assembly & HSLQ)
We will be having our "Spring Into Easter" Celebration "Drive Thru" style this year
just a little differently. We are so happy to have partnered with Hunt. Assembly.& Friends of HSLQ to accomplish this. See the pdfs on our home page for more details. I'm SO HAPPY Easter isn't cancelled!! Whoohoo! The kids and their families will be so happy to receive their Easter baskets and see our faces from their cars. We love them so much!
Is this easy? NO! Is it going to be ok? YES! We just have to take this storm one day at a time. It's constantly changing, the news is paralyzing so we don't listen to it all day every day. We are filling ourselves with hope and courage, walking in a newfound confidence as we pray and ask for God's protection and guidance.
My favorite quotation this week is:
"On the other side of a storm is the strength that comes from navigating through it. Set your sails and begin."-Gregory Williams
My verse of the week is "Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion that cannot be shaken but abides forever." Psalm 125:1
We know it's going to be quite a while but every day is a day closer to us being on the other side of this pandemic. Our prayers are with those suffering through this horrific disease. We know several personally who are going through hard times with the virus. We pray for their complete recovery. We pray for all medical people for their strength and protection. We pray for our leaders. We pray for our own protection and health, God's provision and peace over our little Mission on Broadway. We know He will be faithful!
I've started a little "thing" in the mornings to connect with family and friends on my personal Facebook page @kimgambino "Coffee With Kimmi" it's a morning opportunity to refuel, recharge and be together.
You're welcome to join us whenever you're able.
Let's stay strong and work together although it be from a distance for a while.
We are helping our community and we're loving and serving like never before!
I I'm continually made aware of and I am eternally grateful for God's faithfulness in my life. Nothing is possible without HIM. He does all things well and He is always working...sometimes behind the scenes and we wonder what's going on up there but he's ALWAYS working on our behalf.
Today as we worked at HHRM....My new assistant,-Marianna, Jenn & I mostly were in the office, Irma in the Community Closet & reception area, Sasha in the sorting room and other volunteers helping with organizing Baby Blessings, IT work and cleanup... I watched so much work get accomplished in such an efficient manner that it made me smile. What would have taken a couple of weeks is now completed in days and sometimes even in hours. What a blessing to be surrounded by people with incredible skills and gifts to do the work that must be done.
The team that we have so far is working very well together and everyone seems to enjoy working together and that is a true blessing. There's no "me" it's all "we" and that is beautiful. I love it.
I can remember when it was mostly just my mom, dad and I and a couple of volunteers...things got done but lots of times as a friend of mine put it to quote from an Ice Age movie it was "spit, grit and a whole lot of duct tape" which got the job done and was good for that season. The work was overwhelming and the hours were often exhausting just to be honest, though I'm not complaining. Then my dad passed away and mom and I worked together for 7 years enlisting more volunteer help, still working hard and dreaming of the day when we could do things a little bit differently...maybe even have some staff...
I feel that we as an organization are moving into a new season. A new beginning of sorts when all of those seeds sown for many years are beginning to peek through the soil to create a coming harvest...I think of the many seeds that were sewn by my parents, my grandmother and all those who have worked and volunteered through the years at HHRM. They are the seeds of God's word, the seeds of financial sacrifice, the seeds of work that no-one saw being done and also the work that many have been a part of. Many seeds sown with tears for many reasons... all of those seeds are growing and it is my desire that God will see these seeds through to fruition. They are His seeds and He is faithful to His work. He will be faithful to complete the work that He has begun here. We must only be faithful and trust in His faithfulness.
Tonight I will make dinner and will enjoy the evening at home. I don't have to do a ton of paperwork or work on the mailing list and do flyers because it's all done!! I haven't had a time like this in the 10 years that I have been working at HHRM. There was always more work to do late at night and early in the am; emails, mailings, thank you letters, contacts etc. and I never minded doing any of it. My husband is a trooper and never really complained though sometimes he would say, "Take a break..." and I would:) He always helps where he is able to and I am grateful for him and for his support and encouragement.
Thank you to everyone who has encouraged and helps our mission and outreaches in prayer and in many other ways. We are grateful and as we like to say, "The BEST is yet to come."
So, I started this blog a while ago and began writing about my parents, the mission and how they started it all etc. To be honest it's one of my favorite stories and I hope to continue it as we go along here. Sometimes it's a lot to write about and I want to be sure that I take time to share things happening now as well.
So please join us as we write about our mission and how we're moving forward.
We have a lot of plans and dreams. Things that we want to accomplish. We are grateful for the strong foundation that our founders and all those who came before us built HHRM upon and we are continuing the story. We're excited about it and want to share it. From time to time we'll share an historical moment or recollect about something because we never want to forget.
I'm realizing that I have dreams of my own to share here at HHRM. Things to accomplish and exciting days ahead. I don't want to miss it by being stuck in the past. I hope that you feel my heart here. So here are a few encouraging words for today...we'll be writing more soon....
Inspiration...motivation...intentional living...these are words we hear all around us every day. The truth of the matter is quoting Ecclesiastes, "there is nothing new under the sun".
Every day my inbox gets hit messages about how to be more inspiring, how to maximize your motivation and by all means how to live your life with purpose and intention.
The fact is it's a daily discipline. Waking up and doing things that in reality you really may not feel like doing in order to accomplish your goals and achieve your dreams.
Some people give up too quickly because they don't see results right away...the scales not moving quickly enough, no one really cares about my dream, God knows my heart so I'll skip my prayer time today...
To me anything that we do in life that is worth doing requires COMMITMENT. Are we in it for the long road no matter how long it takes? Are we all in or do we go up and down with the changing times, fads and tides?
Plain and simple and I'm speaking to myself today, "Stick with it and keep moving forward." One of my favorite inspirational quotations is from Paul in the Bible, Galatians 6:9 They even needed motivation in the days of the early church. It's NOTHING NEW. It says, "So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up."
I'll take this a step further...
Do good consistently and don't get tired of it and you will reap a harvest of blessing.
Eat right and exercise your body will thank you and you'll see results in due time.
Work to build strong relationships with people and you'll have others to come alongside you, to lead and to encourage in this life. They will help you towards your goals.
Take time for the important things in your life. Not just doing but being, resting, recharging, family, friends etc.
Don't just work your life away. Work is important but so is rest. Learn to know when to walk away for a bit. It's ok.
I want to do work that matters today. I want to enjoy my life.
I want to be surrounded by likeminded people who also encourage others. I want to be a lifter, a mover and a shaker and with God's help I know that I can do all of these things as He gives me strength.
People often say, "Kim, I don't know how your do all of the things that you do?" The truth is, "I don't." "WE DO".
WE being the team that I am blessed to share my days and vision with. As one of our staff office workers Jennifer L Laino likes to say, "We're evolving." She says it almost every time that we're together and it's so true. We are changing, growing and become all that we can be to serve others and to serve God here in this community.
The needs are so great but that's ok. We pray and we believe for abundant provision and blessing as we work and one by one the needs are always provided for. We don't ask for outlandish things just practical things...food, clothing, household items, toiletries, diapers, wipes, Easter baskets, some volunteers to help and some finances to help us to do the work that we do.
Together we are strong and together we will continue to accomplish much here in our community.
Follow our Facebook page Helping Hand Rescue Mission
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We're excited and grateful for every day that we have to be here and we thank you for your support!
"People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” :)
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/Pastor of the Helping Hand Rescue Mission in Huntington Station.