Morning Glory Gala raises both funds for and awareness of the homeless

Volunteers and benefactors gathered for a night of fundraising and fellowship at the 6th annual Morning Glory Gala, held November 8. (Marty Denzer/Key photo)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

KANSAS CITY—Despite a chilly, rain-and-snow-showery early November evening, about 100 people gathered in Donnelly Hall Nov. 8 on the campus of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception downtown for the 6th annual Morning Glory Gala fundraising event.

Steve Bruns, Morning Glory Ministries interim director, greeted the crowd.

“Whether volunteer or benefactor, you all have a common link. You were called by God to come here and serve the homeless. Thank you for listening to God, not sending it to voicemail or putting Him on hold!”

Bruns noted that Nov. 8 was the 121st birthday of Dorothy Day, whom he learned of and was inspired by while a student at De LaSalle High School.

Guests milled around the silent auction tables, perusing items and checking bid sheets. Others headed for the buffet lines. Soon, everyone was happily eating and chatting with others at their table. The room filled with a pleasant hum of conversation, bursts of laughter and hug-accompanied greetings. A video displayed on the room’s east wall showed photographs of clients and volunteers, interspersed with the numbers of homeless served with food and/or emergency assistance in 2017 and 2018, and related details.

After a while, Bruns called Jennifer Tran, Morning Glory Ministries Emergency Assistance Coordinator, to the microphone. She addressed those in the audience who served as volunteers.

“The volunteers in the café, in the emergency services office, they do most of the work. Our volunteers are the hands and feet of this ministry.”

Referring to the video, Tran commented that in 2017, a total of 87,000 people were served by Morning Glory Ministries and, in the first 10 months of 2018, 90,000 were served. In the past month, she continued, 2,700 were served breakfast, 1,200 received sack lunches and 2,400 were served weekend meals. That was the highest monthly number since the Ministry was established more than 40 years ago. Another 637 people received emergency assistance. “That’s an average of 168 people every morning,” Tran said.

A bit later, Fr. Paul Turner, pastor of the Cathedral approached the microphone. He too commented that many of those at the Gala were ministry volunteers.

He shared a memory of being present in the Morning Glory Café one morning when a man walked in carrying a large instrument case. When Fr. Paul recognized the man, he was stunned. The man said he was scheduled to play his cello that night with the Kansas City Symphony and thought of the people who could not afford to go to the Kauffman Center and hear the symphony. He offered to play for the homeless that morning, and after talking with Fr. Paul some more, the man invited him to accompany him on the piano in the café. That morning, the homeless and working poor eating breakfast at Morning Glory Café were treated to a concert by Yo Yo Ma and Fr. Paul, both accomplished musicians.

After sharing a few more anecdotes, he called Bishop Johnston to the microphone. The Bishop opened his remarks with comments on invisibility.

“It’s heartbreaking for the homeless to be on the streets and feel invisible. ‘No one sees me,’ they think, ‘I don’t exist.’”

“Morning Glory is a powerful ministry,” he went on, “not only do the homeless receive basic necessities like food and emergency assistance, the staff and volunteers notice the people they serve, they don’t see a problem, they see people. That’s the beauty of Morning Glory: the poor, the homeless are noticed, we want to speak with them and share stories. This ministry is important to this city, it makes Kansas City more beautiful and more human.”

Jennifer Tran later told The Catholic Key that ticket sales, the silent auction and the fund-an-outfit for a man and a woman raised $24,400 as of last week. Additional monies are still coming, so the final tally may be more.

To learn more about Morning Glory Ministries, visit www.morningglorycares.com.

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