That’s the self-described title that rolls off the tongue of 61-year old Capital City Rescue Mission executive director Perry Jones.
While many would say that it’s “all Greek to them,” the Ravena resident of Greek descent knows how to put it in plain English.
“It means ‘lover of the poor,’” he says. “I got it from my mother.”
Sotera passed more than her Greek heritage to her son. Perry says that, “She was the mission before there was a mission.”
And whether it’s a chilly Thanksgiving Day or any of the other 364 days where his staff dishes out 800 meals and provides 250 beds, tens of thousands of homeless are grateful the apple didn’t fall far from the “dendron” (tree in Greek).
“Mom was awesome,” he says. “She cared for those who didn’t fit in and had them over for a meal. She made them feel like special people.”
Sotera worked in Albany and couldn’t pass up an opportunity to meet up with street people.
“She would talk with them and really made them feel understood,” he says. “Every bag woman in Albany knew my mom.”
In their hometown of Coeymans Hollow, Sotera would collect the teenage garbage man who had a “tough life” before he’d get a chance to collect the trash.
“You come in for a sandwich,” she’d demand.
And then there was the “egg man” with the socially inhibiting stutter. He’d arrive for his delivery in a 1930’s Plymouth with his back seat out to leave room for the eggs or the hay he was “pitching.”
Jones’ dad would chide Sotera: “Do you have to bring in every lost soul?”
Kidding aside, these outcasts were no longer considered guests.
“They became family,” Jones said, “and I became a lover of the poor.”
To be continued…
Robert J. LaCosta is the daily “Beloved Blogger” at Sonrisen.com. His inspirational writing is also available on the IPhone and Android app MobileGod.