E-Newsletter of Asbury First
A church is more than the building, and the members
of Asbury First are proving this time and again. We aim to keep connected with a weekly e-newsletter that will highlight the unique stories
of our amazing community.
June 18, 2020
Question: When the pandemic hit, what did you and Tasteful Connections do to keep going?
Answer: First, we furloughed everyone except one staff member, Brian Connell, and I gave up a paycheck. Fortunately, the one daily account at University of Rochester continued, although their guest count dwindled as time went on. We were fortunate to pick up two corporate daily accounts—company's that were providing daily lunch to their staff. Ultimately, that came to an end as their businesses couldn't support the expense, and they also ended up furloughing staff.
Q: What has been the hardest part of the pandemic for you/Tasteful Connections?
A: As a caterer of 35 years serving the Rochester community, we provide food, service and more for large events, both social, corporate and non-profit. It was very hard having one event after another postpone and cancel. Weddings, graduations, galas, fund-raising events, large and small ,all canceled.
It was also heartbreaking parting ways, even temporarily, with long-term and much-loved staff. One of the biggest challenges is the uncertainty. (continued on next page)
Most people can deal with almost anything if they know there's an end in sight. In this unprecedented time, nobody knows anything about what the next day/week/month may bring. Also, the criteria and specifics for PPP and other government assistance for small businesses keep changing. It's hard to follow the rules, if nobody tells you the rules—and even when the rules are established, they are forever changing.
Q: What has been the most rewarding?
A: It's been rewarding during this crazy time helping people help people. The way we have done so is by establishing the Frontliners Food Fund, fondly referred to as FFF. Friends, associates, clients expressed an interest in wanting to help during this time when so many people are suffering in so many ways. These generous individuals donated money to our business and in turn we contacted point people at our local hospitals/ambulances/medical practices ,etc, and prepared and delivered hot/cold meals for staff in a variety of departments/floors/units etc. The hospital food service was shut down except for patient meals, so for many staff, this was a godsend. This was truly a win-win proposition. We purchased eggs, bread and other staples for our local community cupboard and others that were not able to access food and other basics. We prepared and delivered "sweet treats" to many of our friends at Asbury First and never left our building without something yummy to brighten someone's day. We sewed masks and isolation gowns for individuals and nursing homes to supplement the PPE that they were unable to access. We've donated blood, we've stored food in our freezer to take the burden
off overstocked freezers, and we've made ourselves available for odd jobs—including a long-term commitment that involves helping a client downsize
Q: How many meals/boxes have you prepared for frontline health care workers so far?
A: Thanks to the generosity of our circle of people, we have donated on their behalf well over 1,000 meals, and we still have some money in our FFF to treat a few more lucky people. In light of some of the recent occurrences in our area, our FFF has also been able to show appreciation to our local law enforcement by recognizing their work with meals and more. We continue to plod along, recreating ourselves along the way, offering prepared family meals, individually packaged meals for meetings/luncheons, gift baskets chock full of delicious edibles for graduation, Father's day, birthdays, etc. We also promote anything and everything that makes sense for us to generate income to keep Tasteful Connections in business. It's kind of like turning the clock back to 1986 when our family business began with box lunches, deli and bakery items, and cookie bouquets. This is quite a change from catering events for hundreds of people in a variety of venues. As the number of guests that are allowed to gather in one place gradually increase, our party room that accommodates 50 is readily available for social and business events. We're also geared to provide great food, delivery, set-up and eventually full service for events remembering that the "more the merrier."
Q: What message would you like to send to the Asbury First community? How can we help?
A: One of the biggest lessons in all this pandemic pandemonium is that truly it is about relationships. It's those people that we've developed relationships with over the years, that truly care about the future of our business, and those are the folks that continue to support us. I have also been reminded that when you give, undoubtedly what you receive in return is bountiful, not expected, but bountiful. Also, I'm more aware than ever, that we are not in control of much in this life. Not being in control does not bode well with many of us, but there may not be an option. We try to stay optimistic, faithful and grateful even when it hurts
Here are a few screen grabs from the many virtual meetings we have had as a church during these isolating times.
Clockwise from top: Tasteful Connections delivered a beautiful basket of delicious edibles to Auburn Community Hospital. The Irondequoit Community Cupboard was grateful for the treats for their volunteers. Irondequiot Ambulance sent out a very special thanks to Tasteful Connections for dropping lunch and dinner of to their EMT's and Paramedics.
Asbury First is made up of a wonderful community of people who are all Better Together—and we work hard to love, live, serve, and repeat. But, we are also part of the larger Rochester community. One Asbury First-connected business is trying to "Do More Good" while operating during a pandemic, so we are highlighting their story during these tough times. Our spotlight this week is on Tasteful Connections, owned and operated by Sandra Holloway.
to learn more about this local business.
Are you or a local buisness connected to Asbury First committed to "Doing More Good"? If so, please let us know and we may feature them in the Visitor @ Home. Send any suggestions to Communications Coordinator Sarah Brubaker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Left: Tasteful Connections started sewing isolation gowns and their liquor storage room was transformed into a sewing room.
Below: A delivery to Cornell’s Collegetown with dinner for eight seniors celebrating the last day of class.
Tasteful Connections, ctd.
Asbury First is privileged to enjoy the talents of a dedicated musical staff, and perhaps now more than ever we've had a chance to experience some of them up close. Over the next few weeks we'll profile each of our soloist/section leaders, as well as our Organist Duane Prill. This week we feature alto Susan Huppé .
Question: Tell us a little about your musical background?
Answer: I had a solo in the Christmas play in 4th grade; shortly thereafter I hung up my ballet slippers and it's been singing ever since. I attended SUNY Potsdam for Music Education, Eastman for graduate work in Vocal Performance, and then moved to the Washington, DC area and worked as a freelancer for about eight years. Making ends meet as a singer meant everything from The Washington Opera to paid caroling at the local mall. I had the opportunity to sing with many organizations including the Richmond Sinfonia, Charlottesville Oratorio Society, and Washington Bach Consort. Washington is where I also got my start as a church soloist, at Immanuel Church on the Hill and St. John's Episcopal in Georgetown. It was there that I became acutely aware of the issues of social justice, and I returned to Rochester to work in the City School District.
Q: When did you join the Asbury First musical staff?
A: I began at Asbury First shortly after I arrived in Rochester; I think it was around 1992, and Marian Craighead was the organist! So I have been singing here, on and off, for almost 30 years. I took a break when I first married, and then came back. There was a second, short break in the mid-2000s when my family was travelling a lot. I feel so fortunate that I was welcomed back so warmly each time!
Q: Tell us about an experience at Asbury First that
has really stuck with you:
A: Over the course of so many years, it's difficult to choose one. The teaching and the relationships have meant so much to me. And every day there is a saying that goes through my mind: "Do more good." That's a good thing
to have stuck in your head.
Q: Do you have a favorite musical moment,
either here at Asbury First or elsewhere?
A: Again, so many. But one unforgettable moment was singing the Finale to Mahler's Resurrection Symphony
on Easter, with soprano Sharon Harrison.
Q: What do you do when you're not singing
at Asbury First?
A: I teach 4th grade in the Hilton Central School District, and my two favorite pastimes are being outdoors
(doing just about anything) and reading. Sometimes,
I read outdoors.
Q: Tell us what's been helping you stay sane while sheltering at home:
A: Seeing my students every day in a Zoom meeting and having my two daughters home. Also, my yard has never looked better, and I'm doing a lot more biking!
Get to Know Asbury First's Musical Staff
This past Sunday was our final regularly scheduled Zoom youth group for the year, and we celebrated with a "Nailed It!"-style cake decorating contest. At 7 pm, we unveiled a beautifully decorated cake and then had 45 minutes to do our best to make our cake look as close to that original (see left).
Prior to joining that evening, the youth were instructed to bake a cake (or cake-like item), and to have icing on hand. The competition commenced and copious amounts of icing was used to create some very interesting cakes. Take a look at some of the results.
— Rev. Mike Mullin, Minister for Youth and Discipleship
Asbury First "Nailed It!" Youth Cake Competition
Want to join in? The next session of
A MINISTER and a RABBI walk
into...Your Home is
JUNE 30, 9 pm
This Tuesday was the first session of "A Minister and a Rabbi walk into...your home." Rev. Mike Mullin and Rabbi Rochelle Tulik from Temple B'rith Kodesh began with a basic rundown of the Christian and Jewish religions, and then went a little deeper to discuss the different denominations and orders of their respective faiths. We had a lively discussion on some introductory topics. Of course, there was also an intro poll asking about our favorite animated TV series to break up the talk on religion and to see what else we had in common.
(Clockwise) The glorious cake stylings of Rev.
Mike Mullin, Charlie Bohrer, Anna Nutter, Summer Sattora,
and Garrett Long.
(Above) Blessings to this family as they receive the keys to their new home! Amelia and her family now have a safe home. Members of the Asbury First team that went to Nicaragua in January voted to donate the surplus of their mission trip money to build a home for Amelia, a young mother at Chacocente. You can see her old "house" and the new house to the right. Amelia has a long, sad story and the entire Chacocente community (families, neighbors and staff) came together to build this for her and her family. She is expecting her third child this June. Click here for a link to a video of Amelia expressing her gratitude.
Project Chacocente Update
A lot has changed around the world and Nicaragua is not immune to the health crisis and economic downturn. Because
of the worsening economy in Nicaragua due to COVID-19, we are requesting emergency food relief for the people of Chacocente.
To learn more about Project Chacocente, visit www.outofthedump.org or email email@example.com. To donate, please visit asburyfirst.org/give and note "Chacocente" in the drop down menu. We will get all the donations to support "Food Relief" for our friends and the families of Project Chacocente. Here are a few images and stories from Nicaragua.
(Above) While classes are suspended at Chacocente, teachers are still required to make weekly lesson plans. For families who have a phone, assignments are sent via WhatsApp. Parents of students without a phone walk to the school to pick up assignments. With classes suspended, the food that had been purchased for school lunches was distributed to the families of Chacocente.
Thanks to Asbury First Vacation Bible School, the students at Chacocente were given "Shoes That Grow." The shoes have Velcro and snaps that adjust to growing feet.
The worsening economy in Nicaragua is leaving many people hungry. Our staff recently distributed rice, beans, oil and other food staples (left, and right). Donations designated "Food Relief" are greatly appreciated.
By Robyn Gage