Monday, August 25, 2008

Inspirational Story

No Wedding, But the Cake Isn't Wasted

At church yesterday, the pastor told us of a story that I will always remember. Of course when anything that has to do with a wedding is said, my attention is grabbed, just like a dog when you say the word "treat". I know, it's pathetic! Anyway, here is the story:

Kathleen Gooley was to have been married today. The wedding was called off, but the reception went on. Instead of friends and relatives, Ms. Gooley's guests were 150 people from homeless shelters, soup kitchens and drug rehabilitation centers in Norwalk, Stamford and Bridgeport.
Ms. Gooley, who works for a company that recruits doctors, was to have married a psychologist this morning, but she said he called off the wedding two months ago. The couple had already paid the Canongate, a catering hall, $5,800 for the reception, and the owners would refund only $1,350.
So instead of a reception, Ms. Gooley decided to have a party for the homeless at the Canongate. ''This is better than a wedding,'' she said today as her guests dined on hors d'oeuvres, garden salad, fruit cup, stuffed chicken breast, string beans almandine, baked potato and cake and ice cream. ''It's making 150 people happy. If it were a wedding, I would have been the only person who was happy.'' Soft drinks and coffee - but no alcoholic beverages - were also served.

Several businesses donated flowers and favors for the party and provided transportation for the guests, who came from places like the Norwalk Kiwanis Shelter and the Thomas Merton House in Bridgeport. Many wore jeans and T-shirts, baseball caps and sneakers and walked tentatively into the Cotillion Room at the Canongate. At each place setting was a handwritten note from Ms. Gooley's 11-year-old daughter that said: ''Hope you have a great day. Love, Tara.'' Pictures of teddy bears adorned the note.
The chandeliers, pink tablecloths, spacious dance floor and wedding menu were foreign to some guests. ''It's been a long time since I've been at something like this,'' said Johnny Rivers, a 47-year-old homeless man who said he lost his job because of problems with alcohol. ''It's been a real long time. I just didn't have the money to be doing something like this.''
Marvin Minkler, an advocate for the homeless who attended the party, said there are 800 to 1,200 homeless people in the metropolitan Stamford area. ''For some of these people, this will be the only hot meal they get all month,'' Mr. Minkler said. ''Some of these people live in abandoned cars or the woods. But this is theirs today. This is their party.''
The uneasiness that some guests experienced at the outset dissipated when the music - everything from rap to big band tunes - started. The men did not hesitate to ask Ms. Gooley to dance. Some women danced with babies in their arms.

While fingering an unlighted cigarette, a homeless man with three stitches above his right eye explained what the party meant to him. ''Even when you're homeless, you try and maintain some pride and dignity,'' said the man, who identified himself as Paul A. ''At something like this, you can. This woman did a wonderful thing. She made us feel like real people again.''


Melissa DiStefano said...

Why oh why do you insist on starting my Mondays with a good cry!

What a great story!

(we both blogged about things that happened a church today... hmmm)

Allure Event Consulting said...

I know, isn't it a great story! I thought it was so wonderful that somone out there has such a big heart (and the money!) to do such a thing!

Unknown said...

Wow. Now that is the heart of the Father. To celebrate with the broken hearted and poor in spirit. What a beautiful day! These are tears of joy on my face. He planned that for all of them. Nothing happens outside the counsel of His will.

So encouraging!

Keegan Hurd

Allure Event Consulting said...

Keegan, you are so right! It is sad that the woman had to go through a called off wedding, but look at what happened instead! Because she wasn't self-absorbed like some, she was able to share love with those who do not receive it all the time. What a wonderful heart that woman has!

*~ Jane & Tricia ~* said...

WOW!!! Talk about pay it foward!! I Love this story, I can only imagine how those people felt that day!

Susan and Stewart Powers said...

What an inspiring story of selflessness, compassion, and love. I love how a midst of hard circumstances, people choose to a make difference in the lives of others. The Father is so amazing, and so is His precious daughter who threw this party :)

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