PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Is there such a thing as a free lunch? On Portland's Congress Street, Martha Cusimano was handing them out. Cusimano and her friends Brenda and Jim McMann were giving boxed lunches to people on the street, people they've come to know through more than a year of their small, street corner ministry.
One day each week, they come to the corner of Congress and High Streets in downtown Portland to hand out drinks - water, cider, hot chocolate - to the city's street people and the homeless. "Just to bless people," says Jim McMann, "and let them know the Lord loves them and that we're here for them. And we do everything from counsel them and pray for them and just listen to them."
Last year they asked the manager of the Eastland Hotel to provide food for Thanksgiving lunches, which the hotel did. The old Eastland is now owned by Weston Hotels, which has closed the building for a major renovation. Weston management said it wanted to still help the McCann's project, so the hotel teamed up with two downtown restaurants, the Right Time Café and the Root Cellar, to donate the lunches. They distributed about 80 of the boxes on Tuesday, stopping people they recognized on the street and offering - literally - a free lunch.
Why do it? Cusimano said it's all about trying to help people change their lives: "Because people when they've lost hope they feel crushed, there's nothing you can do. No amount of money or programs will get them on their feet unless they believe they can make it. We're like the cheerleaders on the road like the Olympics: you can make it you can make it."
The three say they hope to have an actual church in downtown Portland some day, but for now they'll keep coming each week, offering refreshment and a helping hand.