Jeanette has always been involved with feeding homeless people since she was a child. Her father was a butcher. There were a lot of homeless people around his shop and they would feed them all the time. This is how her sensitivity for the less fortunate developed.
Her dad was struggling with alcoholism, so it’s a very soft spot for her. She knows the struggles that alcoholics face.
Jeanette’s compassion for people with addiction has helped many people within the ministry. She doesn’t like when people pick on alcoholics or drug addicts and she makes sure no one says a bad word around her.
Jeanette and Joel met while working at a check cashing place in 1996. They became friends for about two years before they began their relationship.
In 2008, Joel met a man that had a homeless ministry in Coney Island. He invited Joel to help feed the homeless; Jeanette was not interested at first. She was concerned that working and ministry would not mix.
However, after speaking to Joel when he returned she decided to go the following week. The rest is history.
Changing Of The Guard
After a while the man could not continue with the ministry, so Joel and Jeanette took over and partnered with a small church in Coney Island. During that time, their whole family was doing it every Saturday and fed about 100 people every week.
At the church they made it a home environment with music, a time of fellowship and spoke the word. They made it very comfortable for the people to come and get food.
The family was serving together every Saturday and fed about 100 people a week.She recalls times when people would jump on the truck just to get food. The need was that great.
Even on the hardest days they would be out there, no matter how bad the weather was. When it was snowing, the homeless people would hold tents for them. They helped get it ready so Joel and Jeanette could feed people in the streets.
When Sandy hit they couldn’t set up shop at the same church. After Sandy they would go into the projects. There was no electricity, which meant no elevators to reach the high floors. So they walked up the stairs to deliver food and water with a police escort.
There was a little boy that Jeanette gave a bag of candy to. He was living in a car with his mother because their apartment was destroyed by the hurricane. Jeanette wanted to bring the little boy home but her husband told her it wasn’t allowed.
Shortly afterwards they came to Bay Ridge Christian Center, currently World Harvest Community Center. Once again she was hesitant. She knew that this was going to be a bigger responsibility but 11 years later they are still here.
At the time, they would feed the homeless people hot food. Jeanette would buy cans of food from Pathmark to cook it. She recalls a time that it took 5 hours to scan all the cans they were purchasing. This is how they were getting food during those days.
They spend their Thanksgiving Day feeding the homeless and then returning home to enjoy their own families. One Thanksgiving they were feeding people until midnight and then went home and had their own Thanksgiving dinner.
There are ups and downs between work, ministry and family. It’s a challenge to maintain a balance with it all. In her eyes the ministry comes before anything. She knows this is where God placed her.
Unfortunately, her family does not understand and does not support her lifestyle. The co-laborers are her family. They laugh, cry and fight together and she loves them dearly. Now she’s concerned because she’s losing volunteers due to everyone returning back to work.
Jeanette has no regrets, she loves what she does. She is willing to do everything and anything to make the ministry run as smoothly as possible. She forgot what it’s like to live a normal life.
She is looking forward to vacation time with her family once a year. However, when they are on vacation, she laughed when she told me Joel still receives calls.
Holding Hands Ministry Umbrella
The food pantry, which has fed thousands every week during the pandemic. She thanks God that she has not been sick being around thousands of people during the pandemic. She knows that it is a miracle.
The shower program for the homeless. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the program is closed. Pre-Covid they took showers, they would leave with clean clothes. The ministry would wash their clothes, give a haircut, provide hot meals and the Word.
Part of the vision is to have an orphanage, Jeanette is certain this is the next step. She has always wanted to adopt a child. Both her and Joel had dreams about running an orphanage.
Please keep this amazing woman in prayer as she has the food pantry, the shower ministry and soon an orphanage.
If you or someone you know in the New York City area is in need of food or other services please contact the Holding Hands Ministry. The Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/hhmwhcc.
Food Pantries In NYC
Below is an interactive map that will help you locate a food pantry near you in NYC.
Food Insecurity In The U.S.A.
Below is an interactive map which shows the national rate of food insecurity.