HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – An inspiring couple from Holyoke is building relationships and helping the city’s homeless one peanut butter sandwich at a time.
It’s a simple gesture that has a big impact: giving out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to the homeless in Holyoke. Suzanne Picard and Richard Baer have been taking this on, one loaf of bread at time… everyday for the past four years. It’s an endeavor that starts in their kitchen, with supplies purchased with their own money and the results have been nourishing for everyone.
“We share some of the joys and the sorrows our friends are experiencing out there,” said Baer.
Picard, who grew up in Holyoke, credits her parents for instilling importance of giving back to the community. She adds that although some of the people they feed may have problems with addiction, they are not there to to judge… but to help.
“It’s hard out there, it’s hard, but they are good people,” said Picard.
Picard and Baer have a route they follow in their car, marked with a “Spread the Love” sign. They greet friends with a sandwich, a bottle of water and a pair of socks… sometimes a hug.
“They’re great people. I consider them family. Some of those hard days those sandwiches save you,” said one person receiving a sandwich.
Sometimes passing out the sandwiches becomes personal. Picard has a son who suffers from mental illness, addiction and is homeless in Colorado.
“He has to help himself and he knows that. These folks know that. But I guess, and this is not why we initiated this, but I hope someone is kind to him, just kind. They don’t have to give him a peanut butter sandwich, but just be kind,” said Picard.
“You are out here, you are bored. You don’t have anybody.. everybody thinks you are the lower part of the chain. then you have wonderful people like these where they at least stop and talk to you and stuff like that,” said Richard Hess of Holyoke.
“You know it feeds our souls as much as we feed them the peanut butter and jelly. Yeah,” said Picard.
It was humbling being with Picard and Baer, witnessing how such a small act can impact so many.