PHILADELPHIA — Friends of St. Francis Inn gathered June 7 for community building and fun at the inn’s 20th annual block party here.
The event, sponsored almost entirely by a volunteer, was attended by friars, sisters and lay members of the St. Francis Inn team, Franciscan volunteer ministers, as well as alumni of the program and nearly 500 guests of the inn.
The meal included chicken and corn bread, as well as potato salad, ice cream sandwiches and soft drinks. Attendees took part in face-painting, a water balloon toss, sidewalk chalk, other games and dancing.
Patrick Tuttle, OFM, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Greenville, S.C., has served as the party’s disc jockey for the past 19 years.
Katie Sullivan, program director for Franciscan Volunteer Ministry, called Patrick’s 36-hour trip to and from the inn generous, compassionate and enthusiastic. Pat was accompanied by interns from St. Anthony’s.
Sullivan said past block parties have included guests from as far away as Florida and New Zealand.
Pat said he makes the trip to “provide a time of celebration for the inn and guests who have hard lives together. We see people truly enjoying themselves during the day, which is quite another side of them than the usual drudgery of getting basic necessities.”
Other guests at the event echoed Pat’s sentiments.
Jamie Ryder, a former FVM volunteer and St. Francis Inn team member, said, “The block party is one of those times you get to see the guests in a different setting. They are more themselves and get to let loose.”
Amanda Lengauer, 2008-2009 FVM, said, “As Fr. Pat said, ‘In the darkest of times, people are able to show their light at the block party’ — eating together, dancing, laughing and smiling.”
Katelyn Bagtaz, who was concluding her second year of volunteering with FVM, said: “The block party allows adults the opportunity to be kids — good, innocent, naïve, playful. They don’t need to worry about their next meal, what other people think of them — or for some, their next fix. They are free to dance and be goofs. And they see us be goofy. They see a different side of us, too.”
Shown in photo above is former Wilmington FVM Melissa Weise painting the face of a young party guest; in photo behind is Patrick Tuttle with St. Anthony of Padua interns.
— Rebecca Doel is communications coordinator for the Province.