Friday mornings start at 4 a.m. for Skip Myslenski and Mary Kinney, who prep and serve breakfast for around 50 of our homeless neighbors each week.
“How long is this going to take?” Skip Myslenski asked, lowering himself cross-legged to the floor in the lobby of the Hospitality Center Entrance at St Mark’s. He and partner Mary Kinney, were between grocery runs to stock the Center’s pantry for the coming week, a job they undertake every Friday morning. Mind you, this is after cooking a hot full-course breakfast for clients at Hilda’s Place at Lake Street Church then serving up the same menu for 30-40 grateful, hungry guests over at the Hospitality Center.
Skip, whom Wildcats fans will know from his nusports.com blog, “The Skip Report,” began catering this weekly feast in the early ‘90s. Mary, a south-side Chicago native, joined him three years ago. To be clear, “feast” is not hyperbole. How else do you describe a morning meal of bacon, turkey bacon, sausage, eggs, pancakes (plain and blueberry), cheesy potatoes made from scratch, plus individually wrapped breakfast sandwiches for late arrivals? Except for the eggs, the couple donates every bite. Why do they do it? “I consider myself pretty lucky,” said Skip, who has also written for Sports Illustrated, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Chicago Tribune. “So why not?” Pausing thoughtfully, he added, “I’m not sure who said it, but I’ve read, ‘The greatest of distinctions is service to others,’” he surmised.
Mary is less philosophical. For her, the greatest rewards are smiling faces — especially when clients recognize and greet them on the street or in the park. “It’s simple, really,” she explained. “When you see that connection, it’s very meaningful to me.” .