Feb 1980 v.p. Give them something to eat yourselves p. 3
Cordaro, VP, Vol. 4, No. 1, Feb-Mar 1980, Give Them Something To Eat Yourselves
“GIVE THEM SOMETHING TO EAT YOURSELVES” (Financial Report)
By Frank Cordaro
I guess it was inevitable. With the acquisition of a pocket computer, the temptation was just too great. For the last 40 months we have been receiving cash donations for the running of the Catholic Worker. I have been entering each donation in our little red book, making sure that the thank-yous got out. We never added the donations up, leaving to God and His providence to provide us with what we needed, but curiosity got the better of me. Here are the totals and a not so unbiased analysis. Total cash donations for the past 40 months were $35,393, or $10,140 a year, or $845 a month. This does not include the donation of food and materials or other direct services and projects that people have given to the Worker. Without these non-cash donations, our work could not go on. I guesstimate that over the past three years the staff has made another $20,000 in salaries that were put back into the houses. It may sound like a lot at first, but a closer look will tell you otherwise. Any government or church agency engaged in a similar effort could not even pay the director’s salary from the cash flow that we have to work with. We see over 500 people a year, sharing with them our house and food. We give food on request to many other people throughout the year, mostly from our own neighborhood.
The Catholic Worker philosophy has a revolutionary potential for future Christian living in the United States. You cannot budget for hospitality. You can only start sharing. In this is a lesson that can be learned. What has made our house work is the giving that people have taken upon themselves to give out of their own hearts. This country runs on created needed and planned waste. People come to the Worker to share with the poor what they don’t really need. Those of us who live here and our supporters give from our abundance–personal time, money, things. Our personal and collective orientation is to share, not to acquire, an orientation directly counter to the popular American way of life. A whole different attitude creates a whole different basis for living. We have found that we have more to share with others now that we have less to acquire. We do more with less! It doesn’t add up! But neither did the feeding of the 5,000 by Jesus (Mk 6.34-44). At Jesus’ command to “Give them something to eat yourselves,” the disciples ask the practical question, “Are we going to go and spend 200 days’ wages for bread to feed them?” Similarly, today, when confronted with human needs, we ask, “Are we to create a board, write proposals for United Way funds, hire a fundraiser, a director?” Jesus replies, “How many loaves have you?” What does each of us have to offer now, personally? Jesus seems to ask us to start with what we have, not to look for more. We are to do what Jesus does, make what we already have holy by blessing it and sharing it. God will provide the rest and we will be surprised at the great things that we can do through Him. I believe that our houses have witnessed this sharing attitude the last three years, and the great things that can be done.
We have not ceased leaving it up to God to provide us with what we need, even with my new pocket computer. We pray that you will continue to support us, too.