After its beginning during the previous school year, the Sandwich Ministry has continued its mission of reaching the homeless and showing them the love of Christ through a simple act of giving a sandwich.
However, the president of the ministry, TJ Vonderchek, explained that providing the homeless with sandwiches is merely an ice-breaker. “They’re people too. They just want to tell their story, and they want to know that people care about them,” he says.
The Sandwich Ministry is made up of a group of students who dedicate their Saturday afternoons to making sandwiches for the homeless people of Boston as a way to connect, and Vonderchek has an inspiring plan to further the mission of the ministry’s service.
Each Saturday, the Sandwich Ministry prepares ham and cheese and peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches at 12:30 pm in the Spange Parlor. Then, they travel to popular Boston locations such as Park Street, Faneuil Hall, the Boston Public Library, and areas around Harvard to begin their quest of spreading the love of Christ.
The ministry goal strives to build relationships with the community of those who are less fortunate, the people who are hurting every day. Vonderchek explains, “After we give someone a sandwich, we usually try to ask, ‘How did you end up here?’” Vonderchek said that the recipients are almost always willing to share their heartfelt stories, they are just waiting for someone to listen.
Apart from the many new faces the ministry meet every Saturday, they encounter some familiar faces each week as well. “We see some of the same people every week. There’s this guy named Ken, and he always shares his same story.”
According to Vonderchek, that’s exactly what the Sandwich Ministry is all about: as Christians, showing that ENC students truly care about the people that others ignore on a day-to-day basis.
One of the ministry’s more memorable accounts during their service was encountering a former ENC student who was living on the streets. Vonderchek recounts, “We were telling this woman how we’re all college students, and she asked us what college we’re from. We told her ‘ENC,’ and she said, ‘Oh that’s where I went.'” She showed them a hat with the ENC logo on it that she had on her and claimed that she had attended ENC. She fell on hard financial times after leaving ENC, and among other bills, she couldn’t pay back her student loans.
It is moving stories like this that Vonderchek feels we, as young adults and college students, can empathize with. He says, “These people didn’t just decide to become homeless. Nobody plans on being homeless. That’s why it can happen to anyone, and I think it’s important that students realize that.”
When asked what he hopes students will take away from joining this ministry, Vonderchek said, “I hope that anyone who joins will have an eye-opening experience. We’re all children of God, and we need to help each other.”