Stand In The Gap - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1810259

Stand In The Gap

I was greatly saddened and distressed to read the August 18 story concerning the pushback to the new home for the Heart of the Hamptons [“Neighbors Object To Permitting Food Pantry At Former Ambulance Barn,”, August 18]. As a pastor, first in Bridgehampton and now in Southampton, I have personally seen the great needs of individuals and families here on the East End.

My church has long supported the work of the Heart of the Hamptons, because they consistently stand in the gap to help thousands of people feed their families, pay their rent, keep their utilities on, and so much more. And during this pandemic those needs have increased exponentially; those exigencies will not soon disappear.

Every day, each of us encounters someone who is living with hunger issues. If we truly open our eyes and hearts, we will recognize that there is someone in every place where we shop, every restaurant we frequent, every time our cars are serviced, every time our house or pool is cleaned, every time the lawn is cut, every time we take a taxi or Uber or get a delivery, every day at your child’s school, every time we go the beach, and every time we go the doctor or hospital. Hunger does not always come dressed in the ways that we expect.

This pantry is essential to our community. The people who receive food and other services from HOH are part of our community working for and serving others. Our lives are made so much easier, so greatly enriched by their efforts.

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells a parable about the faithful and unfaithful servant. Verse 12:48 says: “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.”

So what is Southampton getting out of this? I would suggest that we are getting far more than we imagine: the very ability to exist as a functioning community.

I applaud the Southampton Village Board and Mayor Jesse Warren for recognizing the essential work of HOH and assisting the organization to secure a new home at the former ambulance barn. What better legacy could there be for a building that was faithfully used in service to the community for so many years? I pray that the mayor and board will continue to work to finalize the original agreement.

Let us together build a community that is known not for just what we “have,” but for how much we give to, and care for, our neighbors, all those who work and live in our communities.

Rev. Joanne S. Utley

Hamptons United Methodist Church