Carol Nelson: We weren’t in the Bronx very long when Eli discovered Hunts Point Farmers Market and the Bronx Terminal Farmers Market, where people could get boxes of produce and dumpster dive. Right away it became apparent we could get a lot more than we could eat. We started giving it to some of the local people, including Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity.
Bill Barto: Missionaries of Charity had their own center a few blocks away. That was one way of gauging any area’s need and poverty — if Mother Teresa’s folks were there, then, yes; you were working with poorest of the poor. The individual sisters used to come over to the Plenty Center a lot. They were fascinated with us. We were fascinated by them.
Terry Barto: Mother Teresa was coming to see her novitiates through their next layer of experience as postulants. There was an open area, used for a come through and shake hands with Mother Teresa. This was a more private kind of event that we were fortunate enough to be able to go to. By coincidence, Sister Miriam, who had been very close to the people in the Bronx, was standing next to Mother Teresa as I walked up with our son Tyrone, who at that point was not quite two months old. Mother Teresa took him and held him. She pinched his cheeks and thought he was the most wonderful baby and then handed him back to me. It was a sweet moment.
One afternoon I was out on the sidewalk… and here came Mother Teresa herself along with some other sisters. First she put her hand on Kyle’s head and blessed him. Then she shook my hand and said, “Oh, the Farm and Plenty — you are the heroes of the world.” She had tears in her eyes when she said that, so I started crying too.
— Nancy Housel
Carol Nelson: We were invited by the Missionaries of Charity to have a meeting with Mother Teresa when she was in town. Everybody was thrilled. We went over and got there early.
Don Nelson: They said, “You can use the chapel while you wait.” Mother Teresa came by the open door on her way to the kitchen. She stopped and looked us over as we were meditating.
Carol Nelson: Then they brought us into a little kitchen. Mother Teresa was there. She looked up and said, “Ah yes, I see. Plenty of God’s love to share.” That blew us away.
Sharon Wells: That is when she asked us if we would start working at the women’s house, “Queen of Peace Home” …a place for battered women and their children.
Bill Barto: The home was in a densely-populated Puerto Rican neighborhood that at night, every summer night, would come alive with people filling the streets, stereo speakers pointed toward the action.
Terry Barto: The street would light up, get loud and continue until daylight and then shut down like an abandoned street.
Sharon Wells: The Sisters had been spending the nights at the Queen of Peace Home, but that way the Sisters never were all together at once. So we began filling in, a couple of us every night. It was pretty much lockdown — we did not want to open those gates. We did have instances where men would try and get in to get at their battered wives. In the mornings, the Sisters would come in, fix breakfast, and feed hundreds of people.